Sporting Hackney seek council backing for new stadium

Sporting Hackney's Ruben Alves in action against Hounslow

Sporting Hackney's Ruben Alves in action against Hounslow - Credit: Archant

Hackney’s highest-placed football team will speak to the council about plans to build a stadium that would take the club to a new level.

Sporting Hackney play at step 7 on Hackney Marshes every Saturday, but vice-chairman Ben Watson will be presenting a club deputation to the council next week, asking for support in identifying land for a football stadium.

It is not hard to see why the club are in need of better facilities, after a mass exodus of players and coaches at the end of last season, including Quentin Monville, who is now at step 3 with Billericay.

Sporting are currently on a three-match unbeaten run, with manager Geoff Gaviria using seven members of last year’s Under-18 team to offset the 80 per cent of players who left.

Sporting are unable to make the move to becoming a step 5 club until they have a ground that meets the necessary requirements – something Watson is desperate to put right.

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“We’re the only borough in the area that doesn’t have a step 5 stadium,” he told the Gazette. “Everywhere around us has at least one such pitch. Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest… every borough in east London has one except Hackney. It’s a genuine anomaly.

“We want to bridge the gap between youth and adult football, but we’re not willing to take the club out of the area to do this. It’s vital we have this change now, as many of our best players either move to other clubs or stop playing altogether.”

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Watson, who lives in Stoke Newington, is keen to impress upon the council the legacy London 2012 was designed to have on the poorest parts of the capital.

Four years on from the Olympic Games, the 40-year-old is yet to see the full benefits of such a global sporting event taking place on his doorstep.

“We’re a well-run club, with two Under-16s and an Under-18 side below the senior team, and we’ve had success in the recent past, winning the Middlesex County League and Cup double in 2014.

“But while we’re grateful to the council for allowing us to play on the show pitch on the Marshes, it’s only suitable for step 7 clubs.

“There’s no facility available in the borough to ground-share as Clapton and Mile End are already double-booked. We desperately need to build a facility that caters for our ambitions.

“We’ve got a partnership with City Academy which helps us run our youth teams, and an agreement with Hackney Council to help us with Hackney Marshes but without the ground we cannot grow.

“We want the council to help support us to identify a suitable site. There’s an awful lot of public bodies who will help with the financing for this sort of development.

“Hackney Marshes is public land so you can’t build on that. What we need is funding for a ground with turnstiles, floodlights and a stand with 200 people or more. That’s the dream.”

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