Ball’s with Rovers again as court rules in favour of Sainsbury’s

March 29 2016

Ball’s with Rovers again as court rules in favour of Sainsbury’s

BRISTOL Rovers’ appeal against Sainsbury’s over a stalled £30 million project to develop the Memorial Ground has been defeated.

The Appeal Court has ruled that Sainsbury’s was within its rights to pull out of the deal.

Sainsbury’s pulled out from its contract with the club to buy the ageing stadium in Horfield and convert it into a supermarket. The contract, signed back in 2011, was important for the new doublesized UWE Stadium planned for Rovers, who have been squeezing their supporters into the 12,000 capacity stadium since 1996.

There is a possibility that the decision will be challenged further, all the way to the Supreme Court, as Toni Watola, chief operations officer of Bristol Rovers, said on the club’s official YouTube channel.

He mentioned the club’s ‘secret plan B’, while declining to comment on the future of the ground. He said that the new owners of the club, led by Jordanian banker, Wael Al Qadi, were clear that they want to consider the option to build the UWE stadium no matter what the court’s decision. 

Local campaigners, Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury’s Horfield, were thrilled to learn that Sainsbury’s were pulling out as they believe that the supermarket treated the club and community in Bishopston with disregard and should compensate the club.

Diana Scrafton, Jamie Carstairs from Traders and Residents Against Sainsbury’s Horfield (TRASH) said: “In our eyes both Sainsbury’s and Bristol Rovers carry equal guilt for planning to build a massive supermarket on Horfield’s Memorial Stadium, threatening to destroy the city’s muchloved sports ground.

“By rights, the fairest outcome of this appeal case would have been a judgement ordering Sainsbury’s and Bristol Rovers’ to recompense the local community the £30,000 costs it incurred in bringing the Judicial Review.”

There have been calls from the local community for any proposed development on the Ground to respect its status. Many people are against destroying the war memorial, but the community hopes for a new stadium for the Rovers.

There were two petitions signed together by about 7000 people to save city’s largest war memorial and maintain it for sports and recreation, as intended by its founders almost one hundred years ago and stated in the Restrictive Covenant on the land.

TRASH campaigners said they welcomed the club’s new owners. “We wish them, the club and Rovers’ fans, well for the future. We are hopeful the club’s new president Wael AlQadi, will be open to consultation with the community and recognise the concern it has for the future of the Memorial Stadium.”

Daniella Radice, councillor for Bishopston, º said: “We hope that their new owners will help Rovers build their new stadium despite this setback. “As local councillors we want to engage with the club about the future of the Memorial Ground and allow the views of our residents to be included at an early stage for any future plans for the ground.”