Old Meadownians FC under threat

The future of Old Meadownians Football Club is under threat as a result of development plans for Dukes Meadows. The 89 year old club, formed from the former old boys of Chiswick School, fields ten adult football teams. Their pitches are also used by youth teams and by Chiswick School.

Hounslow Council has plans to regenerate the area but negotiations with the Football Club have reached a stalemate. The club currently pays a peppercorn rent and under a Management Agreement they undertake the day to day care and maintenance of the grounds, which to date they estimate has saved the council half a million pounds. Now they say the council intends to charge them £10,000 per annum, which they cannot afford.

 

Double whammy

The club shares the Management Agreement with Chiswick Rugby Club and to make matters worse the Rugby Club, which currently uses 32% Riverside Lands area, has written to the Council requesting use of 50% land. The rugby club has done well from the redevelopment because the RFU have agreed to £1.3m worth of funding for an artificial all-weather pitch. A similar deal for the football club with the FA under the Parklife programme was considered but the football club turned it down because they had serious concerns about the proposed costs and the uncertainties over funding.

Where this becomes really murky is that exactly which 32% should be available to the rugby club is not defined in the Management Agreement. The London Borough of Hounslow has now issued the rugby club with a new lease and the football club is considering suing them over its legality, as the Management Agreement is supposed to be in place until 2027.

Chiswick Rugby Club has already started work on its refurbishment and the resulting rubble now covers two junior football pitches, according to the football club. Old Meadownians FC says it has already lost revenue from the rugby club’s development works because access to their pitches is being affected. Having reached this impasse, they say the Council is now ignoring requests for further dialogue: ‘LBH have declined to communicate further’ said Edward Glover. I’ve asked the Council for a comment. The rugby club has declined to comment. The football club say the future of their hitherto thriving club – they are one of the largest and most successful amateur clubs in the London area, at a time when there is a significant decline in adult male 11-a-side football – is now under threat.

For a redevelopment which is supposed to encourage active participation in sport, it appears to be something of an own goal.