Manager could take over as Cornard United locked out

LOCKED OUT: Cornard United's Chris Symes was told by the parish council he is no longer a tenant of the ground
LOCKED OUT: Cornard United's Chris Symes was told by the parish council he is no longer a tenant of the ground

The manager of troubled Cornard United has said he would be prepared to take over the running of the club if it meant saving them from extinction.

A row over the renegotiation of a lease culminated in the club being locked out of their Blackhouse Lane ground late last week and subsequently facing a £500 fine from the Thurlow Nunn League for being unable to host Team Bury in their scheduled First Division fixture on Saturday.

But after worried manager Mark Hoskin took it upon himself to hold a face-to-face meeting with Great Cornard Parish Council manager Michael Fitt on Monday, the immediate future of being able to play games looks to be more secure.

An agreement has been reached to ensure they are allowed to train on the council-owned pitch and Fitt is seeking approval from 
councillors and solicitors to open and close the clubhouse for a match day with a caretaker.

After club chairman and former owner Chris Symes dissolved the limited company, he set up to sell the club in June, and then claimed to have reverted to the original set-up of a committee-run members club this week, Hoskins said he would do whatever is necessary to secure the long-term future of the club.

“If the opportunity was there for me to be able to take Cornard United on I would seriously consider that,” he said.

“But I would have to have a fully functioning committee working with Cornard Parish Council.”

He also said he would like to finally integrate Cornard Dynamos youth teams, who play on pitches outside the front of where Cornard United play, into the club to safeguard players for future and allow them to fulfil their ambitions of joining the Eastern Junior Alliance League.

He added: “I am a Cornard boy, it is my local club and I would be devastated if anything happened to this club.”

Holding midfielder Matt Knight is so far the only player to have walked out over the uncertainty facing the club, moving to Witham Town to be reunited with his brother Charlie, with the striker leaving Cornard only last month.

Without a game scheduled this weekend, the Ards’ next home game is not until November 23, against Debenham LC.

Current chairman Symes said he is likely to have to step down from running the club after claiming the council are refusing to deal with him.

He said: “I wound the limited company up to help with the lease but now, according to them, I own nothing and I am up the creek without a paddle.”

He added: “Technically, I am still chairman but I am trying to hand that over to Mark.”

Symes said he was not prepared to sign a new lease which would make him responsible for unpaid rent under a new owner, with two bidders still waiting in the wings.

Council manager Fitt said: “The intention of the parish council is not to finish or destroy football in Cornard. The problem is who has the tenancy and who is responsible to the parish council.”