Fans fail in call to ban Southend United chairman from new stadium ownership

Southend United fans who hoped current club owner Ron Martin could be excluded from plans for a new stadium are set to be disappointed.

Mr Martin has announced plans to sell the club but hopes to continue to own the ground at Fossetts Farm should the new stadium be built.

Fans group, the Shrimpers Trust, want a proposed new stadium to be tied to the owners of the club and are urging the council to ensure this when granting planning permission.

However, Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture and tourism, said this would be impossible.

She said: “The planning committee has to determine the application regardless of who the applicant is. Planning is blind to the person. It’s not one of those things like a licensing application where you are allowed to look at the past behaviour if there’s a problem or there has been problems in certain circumstances but planning doesn’t do that.

“The reason is, the planning permission, when granted, runs with the land not with the person. Ron Martin is selling the club as a business which has got nothing to do with where the club plays.”

Cllr Mulroney added: “Personal conditions are frowned on. Say somebody thinks they have got special circumstances, that isn’t something the planning system supports.

“You wouldn’t be able to condition it to say you can’t have Ron Martin on the board or something. That is nothing to do with planning.”

Revised stadium plans have now been submitted.

In a statement issued to the council, the trust said: “We urge you in the strongest possible terms to make it a condition of planning approval that the stadium at Fossetts Farm is returned to Southend United’s ownership.

“If you don’t, then there is a very real possibility that there will no longer be a football club left to play in that stadium.

“If you do, then it gives the football club an asset it rightfully owns, which might in turn help to attract a buyer who could secure the club’s short- and long-term future. There are strong recommendations in the recently-published UK Government White Paper for football governance and regulation that would preclude any club from being in this situation ever again.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter