Hundreds sign up to launch community trust in bid to save Newark FC's Lowfields facility
More than 600 people have signed a petition to save Lowfields as the future of the town’s premier football club hangs in the balance.
Newark FC, formerly Newark Flowserve, won back-to-back promotions between 2017 and 2019 and enjoyed a record-breaking FA Cup run in 2020.
The club, which plays its home matches at Lowfields, continued to sell out its 300-strong covid capacity last season as social distancing measures limited fans at sports stadiums.
But supporters could lose their beloved club from Newark come May 15, unless a deal is made with Lowfields landowner and developer Charles Collier, who plans to build houses on the site.
Chairman Gary Clarke said the club was still fighting to secure a new lease for the facilities — which includes a club house, a second pitch, a covered stand and a seated stand — but at the same time was weighing up options to leave Newark.
“We are in a very difficult position,” he said. “We want to stay at Lowfields. It is our home and it has been for the last 100-plus years.
“We are looking at all the options and we will make sure the football club continues — that is definitive. We have a really good base of fans and visitors and we can’t let them down.
“Also, because of the status of the facility, we want to be in a position where we can continue to offer the same services to non-sporting groups, such as art groups, mother and baby groups and dementia support groups.
"Believe me, we are doing all we can to ensure we can to continue at Lowfields and, if we can’t, then we want to be in a position where the football club can continue.”
Mr Clarke said he hoped to meet face-to-face with Mr Collier, who lives in Switzerland, to discuss the situation once restrictions allow.
He said it had not been made clear how much would be needed to continue to lease the ground, however, Newark and Sherwood District Council leader David Lloyd previously indicated it would be £45,000 in the first year, rising to £55,000 in year two, and then £75,000 per annum thereafter.
Frustrated with the uncertainty, supporter Stephen Crane, with help from Jodie Combes, created a petition to set up a community trust for the ground.
Stephen, 67, said: “We are all frustrated with the situation.
“We cannot allow more green space to turn into houses.
“This is not just about fighting to save the football club, it is about fighting for the next generation.
“The thought of Newark FC leaving Newark goes against the grain with me.
“For over 40 years we have been crying out for a very good standard of football in in our town, and now we have two teams who play at a good level, Newark Town and Newark FC.
“We have some really good players in the area who are crying out to reach the highest standards of play.
“I for one will be fighting for the cause that both teams remain in Newark and Balderton.”
Mr Clarke said the success of the petition was a reflection of the community’s attachment to Lowfields and the football club.
“I am not on Facebook, but I was made aware of it and it shows the level of interest and concern in not just the club and local sport, but for local assets,” he said.
“I am hoping everybody who is concerned, whether they use Lowfields for football or anything else, will sign the petition for the facility as a whole.”