When Steve Lansdown separated Ashton Gate Stadium from the rest of Bristol City Football Club I had my suspicions that his intentions were not entirely honourable. In hindsight these suspicions were entirely unfounded. The separation allowed for plans which are now beginning to be revealed. The plan is to move Bristol City Football Club to a site within 200 yards of its present location. The land bought in Ashton Vale is 42 acres, compared to the current site which is barely 10 acres. A 30,000 seater stadium which could be as large as 40,000 if England is chosen as the hosts of the 2018 World Cup and if Bristol is chosen as one of the host venues. By then who knows how big this club will have become? A Premiership club competing year in year out with the likes of Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal? Why not? The ambitions of our Chairman are beginning to be realised, the dream is as outlined.
Half an hour into the FA Cup match with Middlesbrough and I was pinching myself as if what I was watching was some kind of dream. We were competing and at times outplaying an established Premiership side, a side who in the 1980s had been on the brink of extinction much as we were at the time. If the town of Middlesbrough could achieve this why couldn’t a City the size of Bristol. If a city the size of Liverpool could sustain two Premiership sides, why not Bristol? Rovers impressive following at Fulham was evidence of the size of giants lay sleeping in Bristol. None of the 7,000 that went was Bristol City fans. 15,000 that attended on Saturday would continue to attend and be added to if we were to achieve the unimaginable. Even if it is not this year then surely in the near future Bristol City will get there?
Steve Lansdown began his Chairmanship setting out ambitious plans for the future. He recruited Colin Sextone, so successful in turning round the fortunes of Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, as his Chief Executive. He divided the club into manageable sections held together by the umbrella of Bristol City Holdings Ltd. He recruited Danny Wilson as manager and almost achieved success, he put his faith in one of the most popular players reaching the end of his career Brian Tinnion, but that didn’t work. Then he produced his masterstroke. He captured the services of Gary Johnson. This man has transformed the playing staff from a group of players taking the mickey out of the club by taking their inflated wages and egos into the bars and clubs of Bristol, into a group of motivated young professionals united behind him and driving to achieve success for the club.
So what of the plans for the stadium? A huge area devoted to the club and the wider community. A stadium with its’ own train station. Its’ own corporate facilities. Its’ own car parking. Part of the South Bristol regeneration scheme including a southern ringroad to the City. Still very much attached to Ashton Gate and yet better served by its’ communications and modern facilities. This will become reality by 2012 if Steve Lansdown has his way. I have no reason to doubt his word. I can’t wait to see the plans. The fans will have a big say in the look of the stadium. Few want a soulless bowl, the new stadium will have character at an estimated cost of £30,000,000 (£1,000 per seat). The Ashton Gate site is estimated to be worth £20,000,000 to potential developers. Steve Lansdown is more than capable of raising £10,000,000 to fund the rest. These are fantastic times for Bristol City Football Club.
VIEW THE NEW LOCATION HERE
(this is a hypothetical plan and does not represent any official plans)
I was around for the last visit to the top flight. This time the feeling is that the foundations are far more solid and a sustained stay will be achieved in the next ten years. We have our best Chairman since Harry Dolman, and our best manager since Alan Dicks. In 1982 the slogan was ‘Support Bristol City Football Club Now or Never’. Forty years later when the gates of the new stadium are opened the slogan may well be ‘Bristol City Football Club, Supported Now and Forever’.
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