Unhappy council backs stadium

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COUNCILLORS have reluctantly agreed to guarantee a £1 million overdraft for the struggling Keepmoat Stadium for another year.

But members of the council’s cabinet yesterday demanded monthly reports on the financial position of the Stadium Management Company.

Disappointment was expressed at the lack of improvement in the SMC’s financial position over the current financial year, with a profit forecast of only £2,000.

The stadium is also faced with a long-term maintenance bill of around £400,000 for replacement of the athletics track in about six years’ time.

Coun Mark Thompson, cabinet member for corporate services, said the profit figure “doesn’t exactly fill myself and the cabinet with confidence” and said the need for the £1 million overdraft was testing their patience.

But he added: “If we did not back this overdraft it could cause considerable problems which would revert to the council.”

The Mayor, Peter Davies, blamed the problem on his predecessor.

He described the situation as “a progressive headache and one that could have been avoided with more common sense when it was built”. He added: “Local councils should not be building sports stadiums and this was a great error of judgement by the previous administration.”

Coun Jonathan Wood, cabinet member for business, pointed out that without the overdraft guarantee the SMC would not be a going concern.

“Then it would revert to us and we’d have to bail it out anyway. This needs sorting immediately,” he said.

The Cabinet agreed to sanction the overdraft but also asked for a monthly review of the agreement with SMC.

Accounts put before the councillors show the stadium has cut costs by reducing staff and the opening hours of the soccer centre and health club, while more revenue has been obtained from letting rooms, car park charges and catering.