A PETITION to save Wrexham FC’s historic Racecourse ground has netted more than 8,000 signatures.
But organisers only have until next Spring to reach their target of 10,500 supporters.
The numbers rose above 8,300 as organisers of the Red Passion website met with local MP Ian Lucas in Westminster this week.
Mr Lucas joined their campaign, geared towards making sure the stadium is specifically identified by Wrexham County Council as an area to be used only for leisure, before the county’s LDP (Local Development Plan) is drawn up early next year.
Council chiefs vowed to take their petition on board when drawing-up the LDP, as supporters want assurances the ground will never be demolished in favour of an alternative development.
Petition organisers argue that if the Racecourse was lost it would have a huge impact on the town.
One of the authors told the Daily Post: “Our target is 10,500 signatures, which is the current reduced capacity of the Racecourse ground while the Kop end is closed due to the student housing development.
“The petition currently totals 8,347 signatures, and that includes ex-players from Wrexham FC and football fans from the UK and abroad.”
He added: “Sadly the football club have appeared keen to distance themselves from the petition and have declined our invitations to support it or comment on it publicly.”
Mr Lucas reinforced their appeal, adding: “One of the main things people associate with Wrexham is its football team and the Racecourse stadium – it really is known around the world.
“That’s why I am delighted to back what is a grassroots fans’ campaign. I am also hoping to encourage other MPs to add their backing to the campaign.”
Their concerns came as we reported yesterday how the £40m Wrexham Village development, which now owns the club, is on course to be built by next July.
Meanwhile, Wrexham council revealed how the emerging Wrexham Local Development Plan (LDP) will eventually replace the current Wrexham Unitary Development Plan (UDP) and become the key framework for future development in the county.
They said the current adopted UDP does not contain a policy specifically referring to the Racecourse by name, but does contain general policies to protect all important community facilities, including sports grounds, which are applicable to the Racecourse.
A planning spokesman told the petition organisers they will bring their grievances to the attention of the Planning Policy Panel, overseeing the preparation of the LDP.
If the plan does not provide the Racecourse ground with the level of protection fans think is appropriate they will have the opportunity to submit a formal objection during the six week statutory consultation period.
Lawrence Isted, Chief Planning Officer, added: “The council fully appreciates the strong feelings among many people in Wrexham regarding the future of the Racecourse and we will give the matter careful consideration in the deliberations on the LDP.”
Nobody from Wrexham FC was available at the time of going to press, and on previous occasions when asked for a stance on the petition they have said they wished to make no comment on the matter.
WREXHAM MP Ian Lucas has added his backing to a campaign by Wrexham fans to protect The Racecourse.
Mr Lucas is to sign a petition calling for the ground to be safeguarded as part of Wrexham Council’s local development plan.
Organisers of the petition set a target of 10,500 signatures – one name for every seat in the stadium – and so far it has rattled up a total in excess of 8,300 names.
The petition – set up by Wrexham supporters on the RedPassion website – asks for The Racecourse to be “clearly identified in the LDP as an area which is protected and reserved for leisure activities, in particular in its role as the football stadium in North Wales for hosting international sporting events and major cultural programmes.”
Mr Lucas said: “The Racecourse is a historic venue and has been used as a stadium since 1877.
“When I explain that I am Wrexham’s MP, one of the main things people associate with the town is its football team and The Racecourse – it really is known around the world.
“That is why I am delighted to back what is a grassroots fans’ campaign, and to encourage other supporters of Wrexham FC to sign this petition.
“I am also hoping to encourage other Members of Parliament to add their backing to the campaign.
“While the team itself may have its ups and downs, ensuring it remains at The Racecourse is vital.”
The petition is available to sign at www.petitiononline.com/LDPWFC21/petition.html.
The chairman of Wrexham FC has had his say about the possibility of the club’s training facilities being used by an international football team as part of the 2012 Olympics.
Geoff Moss said proposals are being drawn up involving Wrexham Council where the football club and Glyndwr University could play a part in helping visiting Olympians prepare themselves for competition at the highest level.
If the plans come to fruition it could mean Colliers Park training ground in Gresford, the Racecourse, as well as facilities such as the student accommodation being built at Glyndwr University would be utilised by the athletes.
Mr Moss said: “This is a very exciting proposal and it would be a huge honour for the area if it gets the go-ahead.
“There is work which has to be completed before then and we need as much support as possible.”
The aim of our campaign is to lobby the local authority to include the historic Racecourse Ground in the Local Development Plan, which will contribute to our overall aim of securing professional club and international football for the people of Wrexham and North East Wales.
Our campaign has received generous support from throughout the world of football, and we see our campaign as one part of the wider grassroots supporters movement seeking to reclaim the game.
The Protect The Racecourse campaign is a collective of supporters. We are not an organisation and we have no hierarchy. It is our intention to work closely with all stakeholders in Wrexham Football Club. It is, however, our opinion that the single most important stakeholder in Wrexham Football Club, as with all community-based football clubs, are the supporters and their communities.
We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with supporters of any and every club. We believe wholeheartedly in the ethos and aspirations encaptured in one simple phrase: Fans United.
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