Yeovil side Westland Sports have issued a second statement today, following their earlier press release, concerning the loss of their first team pitch facilities for the 2012-13 season. The Dorset Premier League Champions have revealed that they will now have to withdraw their first team from that league, as they look for new facilities to support the progress of their club.
Chairman Brian Rousell has attacked a series of people and organisations in a strongly worded statement, including Yeovil Town manager Gary Johnson, Yeovil Town Football Club, Agusta Westland and South Somerset District Council, after they were denied the rights to the main pitch at their Alvington ground, with the Glovers looking to use the facilities as a first team training ground.
The Glovers took over the rights of the pitches four years ago, to satisfy requirements for their Community Trust and Centre of Excellence set ups, but despite the CoE being closed this summer with the exception of the Under-18s side, the Glovers first team will now use the facilities to train during the week, leaving Westland Sports without a suitable pitch to stage Dorset Premier League matches.
Rousell indicates that Westland will now not defend the Championship they won last month, and hits out at Gary Johnson, who presented the club's 2011-12 End of Season Awards in the Alec Stock Lounge at the end of last month, implying that the Glovers boss must have known his intentions to evict the club's tenants at that time. Rousell's full and unedited statement reads:
"It is with regret that I announce that following the recent events that have knocked the stuffing out of our club, we will not be competing in the Magna Dorset Premier League next season. However, I have requested a dispensation to defer our membership for the season ahead so hopefully we will be back in 2013, after we have gathered ourselves together and re-established our identity.
"Westland Sports will maintain its position in the Dorset Senior League next season and our youth team will play in the Dorset Youth (U18) League on Sundays. I hope the core of players will remain loyal to the club with pre-season training being announced soon. Next season we will have the exclusive use of two pitches at Alvington together with the changing rooms and training area so all is not lost. With these arrangements in place, I would now like to comment on the broader issues of why we find ourselves in this position:
"It has always been my worry since we were forced out of Westlands Sports & Social Club into the newly formed Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust that the inevitable tsunami of Yeovil Town FC would engulf us. We have never had our own assets or the financial stability to combat that. The main factors are deeper than that, firstly the greed of professional footballers and managers are crippling the amateur game. The blame for the loss of our pitch I put squarely on the shoulders of Gary Johnson, the manager of Yeovil Town FC. His demands at Yeovil Town to capture the use of the main pitch were our downfall. What sticks in my throat is that he came to present the awards at our presentation night then stabbed us in the back ! Well done Gary!
"Secondly, Yeovil Town FC must take part of the blame as they employed Mr Johnson in the first place, but I know they have tried desperately to accommodate both parties despite Gary’s demands, but Alvington proved too desirable in the end.
"Thirdly, Agusta Westland must share the blame in promoting the Community Trust. The purpose of the Community Trust was to encourage sport within the community, with Westland Sports being a major part. We have fulfilled our part in giving hundreds of youngsters the opportunity of getting into football, giving them the confidence to face the challenges of life. With this current blatant disregard for community welfare, I wonder if the Trustees have lost their way or even care.
"Fourthly, the Somerset District Council is also to blame. There has been little investment in sporting facilities within the Yeovil area over the recent years. Only talk and the planting of daffodils. The lack of suitable sporting venues is a disgrace but they do nothing. Yeovil Town FC will unfortunately bear most of the blame for the situation we are in, but I have every sympathy with them, as they too could be a victim of their own success in the search to upgrade their own facilities.
"No matter what happens, no one can ever take away the success of our club over the last 13 years that I have been involved. This has culminated in the unprecedented treble, a feat possibly never to be repeated. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the players, staff and supporters for their fine achievement. The memory of Michael scoring the final goal in the Somerset Senior Cup Final at Street and running round the pitch with his shirt off will be a moment of pride forever."
As yet, we've not seen any response from Yeovil Town to the earlier Westland Sports statement, to understand their thinking on this issue. However, the club's application to South Somerset District Council for a Food Store to be built on their current two training pitches looks to have heavily stalled since the end of March, with the club yet to submit their plans for replacement community and training facilities. Hence these two pitches at Huish Park will continue to be available for the foreseeable future.
The situation with Westland Sports perhaps illustrate why Sport England objected to the club's proposals - without those replacement facilities being identified, the fewer pitches that are available in the area inevitably have an impact further down the food chain and hit other organisations within the local community.
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