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Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust says it plans to work on a way to bring Vics back to town
FOOTBALL fans say their focus is on finding a new home for their favourite team after the gates to the old one were closed forever.
Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust chairman Paul Stockton was at Wyvern House, in Winsford, last week when councillors decided the club’s former Victoria Stadium should be closed to the public.
A ball has not been kicked there since January.
“Like many Vics supporters, we’re very disappointed,” he said.
“Less than a decade ago, Vale Royal Borough Council gave approval for the stadium to be built, a project that fans gave their time, effort and money to help make it one of the best in non-league.”
Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee agreed unanimously to allow Thor Specialities (UK) Ltd, which in January bought land on which the ground sits, to store more chemicals next door.
It beggars belief that the club did not object to Thor's plans.Supporters trust chairman Paul Stockton
As a safety measure, sport can no longer be played there.
The chemicals manufacturer has been granted approval to store up to 60 tonnes of n-Butyl Isocynate, classified by the Health and Safety Executive as very toxic.
Wincham Parish Council and agents advising developers behind a plan to build more than 1,000 homes in the village formally objected, although the football club did not.
Nobody was at Thursday’s meeting to represent it either.
Vics owner Jim Rushe said he preferred not to comment when invited to yesterday, Tuesday.
Instead, he plans to wait for the outcome of negotiations between the council and Thor over compensation for the loss of a sporting facility.
“The club’s position beggars belief, even more so considering its owner refused to sign a lease for the team to complete last season at the ground in order to concentrate his effort on getting back there,” said Stockton.
Rushe rejected in January the proposed terms of an accord that would have permitted Vics to finish the campaign at the Victoria Stadium.
In particular, he was unhappy at being asked to waive his right to protest against Thor’s proposals to redevelop the nine-acres site.
He addressed supporters on the pitch following the final whistle of the last match there, asking for advice from those that stayed behind.
“It would be a travesty for a stadium as good as ours to be bulldozed,” he said.
“I think that’s wrong, and want to fight to stop it ever happening.”
Vics will host opponents this season in Stafford, more than 40 miles away, after the Northern Premier League’s board refused to bend its rules to allow the team to play at Flixton.
Despite the setback, Rushe has still signed a three-years lease to use a pitch at the Manchester club's Valley Road.
“The trust’s view is that Northwich Victoria needs as soon as possible to be back to where it should; playing home matches in the town at what will be another new stadium,” added Stockton.
“We’ll be trying our hardest to help make that happen.”
At its annual meeting earlier this month the trust formed a committee, made up of fans, to examine ways it could do exactly that.