Is this the end? Business leader warns impact of Cromer Football Club folding would be felt throughout the town
- Credit: Archant
Behind the scenes talks are continuing in an eleventh hour bid to save one of Cromer's oldest institutions.
Cromer Town Football Club warned that this season could be its last ahead of its final game, at home to Harleston Town, on Wednesday night.
It blamed uncertainty over the future of its home ground, Cabbell Park, and a lack of volunteers, both of which have impacted on its ability to fundraise, in part for its demise.
The men's side, who have been relegated from the Anglian Combination Premier Division have also been hit by the resignation of their manager Lee Hackleton who quit after late call-offs meant his side were only able to field nine players in their penultimate game at Caister.
And, unless enough people step forward to show their support for the club, the existing committee revealed it will call an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) later this month with a resolution to fold the club.
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Reacting to the announcement, Gary Dickenson, President of the Chamber of Trade & Business, said: 'The loss of any attraction, venue or facility from what is considered a vibrant town is a loss to that vibrancy and likely to have some impact on footfall and ultimately business conducted in the town.'
But he added: 'If a way forward can be found I would be happy to see how the businesses could be part of that plan.'
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The club's pitch was moved to accommodate the town's new medical centre.
However, the football club have been given an assurance from North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) that it can remain at Cabbell Park for a further three years while a new sports facility is built at a site yet to be identified.
The local authority has spent more than £70,000 on new changing facilities and improved drainage at the Mill Road site.
Steve Blatch, Corporate Director & Head of Paid Service at the council, said: 'NNDC are concerned for the future of Cromer Town football teams - both the men's and women's sides.
'For several years we have been working with CTFC and the Cromer Youth team to promote better links between the clubs as this is key to the future of any adult club. Just recently these talks have made positive progress.
'NNDC has never suggested the CTFC car boot sales had to stop during construction work at the ground and we have offered support to ensure any health and safety issues are dealt with.
'We will continue to work with all parties to ensure the survival of Cromer's football teams which we recognise play a vital role in the town.'
Despite a spirited second half performance, Cromer lost their final home game of the season to title contenders Harleston Town 2-0, with Connor Delaney and Nathan Russell both netting in the first half - including one from the penalty spot.
Cromer Town chairman Paul Jarvis, who is retiring from his post this summer, made a pitch-side plea to fans to step forward to save the club after the full-time whistle.
He also presented winger Jack Crane with this season's Supporters' Player of the Year award.
Mr Jarvis said: 'It would be very sad to lose the football club. Financially we have money in the bank and we have an agreement with the council that football can carry on at Cabbell Park until they provide an alternative, so it's not the end of the day - there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
'But, come the middle of May, we need to have some positive opportunities to move forward.'
And, when asked if anyone had come forward following the appeal, he added: 'Our secretary Richard Cox has had one or two contacts from people who have indicated they may be able to help but they sort of half indicated they might be here tonight and we haven't had anyone come to us. We're just hoping.'
Former Norwich City, Blackburn, Chelsea and Celtic star Chris Sutton, who has links to the area, showed his support for Cromer by supporting the appeal for help on Twitter.
But the club revealed it needs more people who can help with the administration of the club - including a new chairman, secretary and treasurer.
Mr Jarvis said: 'What we need is personnel to form a committee for the future. And, if we can get that, some of us who are retiring are still quite happy to assist behind the scenes to blood those people in.'
Cromer Town Council, which helped save Cromer Skatepark from closure after a shortage of volunteers left it in difficulties, is attempting to set up a meeting with Supporters Direct - an organisation representing the interests of 200 supporters' trusts and supporter-owned clubs - to explore ways forward.
Anyone who can help is urged to contact the club via its website - www.pitchero.com/clubs/cromertown - or Mr Jarvis direct by calling: 01603 631201 or 07814495081.