Airco Arena – the HCST view

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In our last post about this on March 16 we said we would be asking the club, at the following night’s Fans’ Working Group meeting, about the issue of community sports groups being ejected by the SMC and would update shareholders after that meeting.

We are pleased to see further investment in the club’s academy facilities but are disappointed that local sports clubs from the community Hull City belongs to will lose use of the arena as a result.

This is from those FWG minutes:

The club has invested heavily in youth facilities, and missed out on Category Two status only by 2%. To be re-audited this promptly is apparently quite uncommon. This re-audit will occur on April 23rd.

The Premier League apparently rejected City’s compromise suggestion of a promise to have indoor facilities in place by the summer, requiring instead for work to be underway in time for their audit. JM said the club had investigated other sites, including Bishop Burton, but concluded that the Airco Arena was the “only place”. He admitted the club has been “reactive, not proactive”.

JM wants to set up meetings with any affected group, though some are declining his offer, wanting only to speak with Mr Allam (who thinks it’s a council problem).

Some community use may possible continue, though only for groups for whom a 3G pitch is suitable, and who are happy to base schedules around City.

It appears that affected groups could have been notified of this a little earlier than they have been. The club is considering an apology to those affected.

Whilst HCST are pleased to see Hull City improve its facilities, we do not believe that this should be done at the expense of other, far, far less well-resourced community-based sports groups.  The KC complex – as we successfully argued in our nomination – is an Asset of Community Value and is not there just for the football club.  It is clear by their actions that the club’s management were in this case running the Stadium Management Company for the benefit of the club alone.  Most lamentable, perhaps, is the utter absence of consultation.  It’s sad that the club’s executives believe its fans to be irrelevant; it’s as regrettable that the same people at the SMC apparently believe the rest of the community is too.

We hope that this can be satisfactorily resolved.  We note that the Airco users are meeting with “representatives” of the SMC.  It would be even better if the executives of the SMC behind this decision to evict them would meet those community groups themselves.

The petition against the eviction can be found here.

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