Football could be coming home to Newport after the new Isle of Wight Council has said it wants to see what it can do to help bring the plans along.
Earlier this year, Whippingham and Fairlee’s Cllr Matt Price put forward the idea of building a football ground at Seaclose Park to keep Newport FC in the centre of the town
A purpose-built stadium has been given the go-ahead for the club but down the road near the Racecourse Roundabout in Whippingham, instead of in Newport.
Recently, the club announced plans to temporarily move to Smallbrook Stadium in Ryde while a new ground is built.
The football team have been sharing grounds with East Cowes Vics after moving out of their home on St George’s Way to make way for a retail park, which will include big stores and a McDonald’s and Costa drive-thru.
Both of the developments are proposed by South Coast Leisure, whose director, Tony Wake, is also chairman of the football club.
Work was expected to start towards the end of summer on the Whippingham site but Mr Wake said he was happy to keep the Seaclose alternative on the table should the council and public agree it was the better option.
Carrying out his own consultation, Cllr Price said the plans, which also include other community aspects to rejuvenate the park, like new sports equipment, the upgrading of walking and cycling routes and skate park improvements, had received considerable support.
Now, with the election of new councillors and a new ruling party in charge of the Isle of Wight Council, talks have been underway about the potential move.
Cabinet member for regeneration and business development, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, also ward representative for Newport Central, said with the public’s affection for the football club, it would be ideal to bring it back to the town.
Cllr Jones-Evans confirmed that after speaking to the new leader of the council, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, they wanted to see what could be done to bring the team back into its hometown.
While there is lots to look at, Cllr Jones-Evans said they were happy to take it to the next stage.
“There might be some planning hurdles to overcome but we have to see what [the developers] are going to offer the council first, as it has to be zero costs for us as we are giving up a playing field.
“But hopefully they will be building a public asset.
“Under the previous administration, I think it was pretty much a no but we want to look at it and it seems like quite a good idea, so let’s explore it.”