WHILE the plot surrounding a potential takeover of Woking FC thickens, a few things have emerged from behind the smokescreen, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
Despite the National League club’s radio silence on all matters relating to possible investment in the club, an adjourned meeting between two Asian businessmen and a director of another non-league club 16 miles away may hold a clue.
Several names have already been touted in connection with The Cards takeover, including former Chelsea players John Terry and Frank Lampard; and a group of Chinese investors from Lander Holdings, who sought to buy a stakeholding in Southampton FC in January ’17.
However, when two Asian investors made an impromptu visit to Leatherhead FC’s Fetcham Grove ground back in April ’17, this conundrum began to unravel. Their brief was reportedly crystal clear: to buy a football club on the periphery of the M25.
Since then, a number of potential UK and overseas investors are believed to have been shown around the Kingfield site in south Woking, but Terry and Lampard are not believed to be amongst them.
The News & Mail understands that the club used the former England duo as a red herring to divert attention away from what may be bubbling behind the scenes.
And then there’s the proposed development of the Kingfield site, which is owned by Kingfield Community Sports Centre Limited. Possibly a separate issue from the club, as it will require full planning approval, the current shortage of one and two-bedroom dwellings in the borough makes it an attractive business proposition in its own right.
Amid this backdrop of uncertainly, Alexander Jarvis of Blackbridge Sports, already named as being pivotal to the club investment, is now thought to be weighing up several financial offers. It is not yet known, though, whether these options include the development, or if Jarvis’ very close Eastern connections mean the aforementioned Asian business consortium is leading the charge for the club.
Any development of the Kingfield site will need to align with Woking Borough Council’s Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.
The fact that Woking already bucks the trend when it comes to growth over many other Surrey towns cannot be ignored.
Projections show a 13% increase in population from 99,000 in 2014 to 112,000 by 2039, which places a huge demand on housing. Therefore, it makes the Kingfield site a prime development opportunity, without disenfranchising Surrey’s senior-most football club.
The only certainty is that whatever happens, or doesn’t, securing the long-term future of any football club always takes far longer than people expect. In this scenario, it’s already much longer than The Cards’ fans would like.