HOPES for a brand new community football stadium have come crashing down after Gainsborough Trinity chairman Peter Swann announced he is to leave the club.
Plans had been submitted for a multi-million pound ground and community sports facility on the site of the old Castle Hills School site, off the Little Belt Road in the town.
But delays had already set completion back to the start of the 2014/15 season. And Mr Swann has now revealed he will not continue with the project due to ill health.
“I couldn’t deal with a two year project for the new stadium, knowing my health isn’t at its best,” Mr Swann told The Standard.
“If my condition got worse and I fell to pieces, it wouldn’t be fair on the fans - or me.”
“I was the main financial backer for the project and it’s a good business model. But it’s very difficult when it’s only you driving it forward.”
Mr Swann said he will ‘take a break’ from football when the current season ends and concentrate on his health.
In June he was rushed to hospital with a suspected brain haemorrhage. And scans revealed a lesion on the right side of his brain.
The condition, called a cavernoma, is being monitored closely. But Mr Swann said he still suffers crippling headaches.
“This has been an enormous decision because I love football and I love the club,” he said.
“The fans can see that from the time and money I have invested in Gainsborough Trinity. And they have been incredibly supportive.”
Plans for the development featured a 4,000 capacity stadium, 3G floodlit all-weather training pitch, 5-a-side pitches and changing rooms. Other community uses included a crèche, club shop, kitchens, and function rooms.
Despite the plans seeming scuppered, Mr Swann said he hoped someone else would take on the project.
“If someone wants to take it on, the new stadium project plans are ready to go and that would be brilliant,” he said.
Planning consultant Andy Booth, who led the stadium project through the complex planning process for Globe Consultants Limited, said a lot of work had gone into the plans.
“Clearly it would be a crying shame if they were not to come to fruition, for the club and for the town,” he said.
He revealed that the application had still not been formally verified by West Lindsey District Council who had been waiting to receive the application fee.
Mr Swann’s shock announcement also halts his ambition to re-open the State Club in Gainsborough.
In May he told The Standard he wanted to have the Church Street club up and running as a ‘classy evening venue’ within a year. He said both the stadium and the State projects could ‘complement each other’.
But this week, the entrepreneur confirmed ‘everything is on hold’. “My main priority is my current business, The Sands in Blackpool, where I have 45-50 employees and things are going well,” he said.
“No matter what happens, it all started in Gainsborough, and I hold the place dear to my heart.”
“Maybe I can re-assess things when I’m better. But at the moment I need to look after my health and my family.”
“I have always taken on too much, done things for other people, and it has made me ill.”