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Ex-council chief: Stadium axe means we'll get blamed for Wasps crisis
FINGERS will inevitably be pointed at council chiefs if Wasps' financial crisis deepens, a former Tory leader says, because of the decision to axe the community stadium.
The threat of administration is looming over the Premiership side after a sale of the club fell through.
Last year's decision to axe the stadium project will be factored into the blame game over the turmoil at Adams Park, Cllr Roger Colomb believes.
The ex-Wycombe District Council Leader said the current predicament, which may ultimately engulf Wycombe Wanderers too, is regrettable.
Conservative colleague and former Deputy Leader Cllr Tony Green called the news a 'massive blow'.
Cllr Colomb said: “I'm certain that if something cataclysmic were to happen fingers would be pointed at the council obviously, but that would happen on so many occasions even if we weren't even involved.
“It would be very regrettable in many different ways.
“The great plan was that if you had the stadium and sports village, this would provide the impetus to take it away from its current situation.
“The council decided not to proceed and that decision was taken fairly early on in the process because the business plans had not been finalised.”
Recently some readers wrote to the Free Press suggesting the stadium plan be revived.
But Cllr Colomb said: “The opportunity has gone, what is done is done. We can't rewrite the thing and bring it back again. It can't be resurrected.
“I was a supporter of the concept. I believe it had so many benefits that it was worth taking the risk of moving the project on. But nobody could be certain it would succeed at that stage, but it certainly had tremendous benefits if one could pull it off.”
Cllr Green, who was a leading proponent of the stadium proposal, told the Free Press it had been a premature decision.
He said: “I think it's unfortunate that it was scrapped when it was but having said that there was never any guarantee that it was financially viable.
“We knew when the stadium didn't go through that one of the repercussions could be that there'd be a lack of financial support for both Wasps and Wanderers.
“Steve Hayes always made it clear that he saw these plans as needed to bring investment into the two clubs.
“I think the whole point of the stadium was that a stadium was required to encourage new investors.
“And without the new stadium the new investors haven't been forthcoming, it seems.
“The administration thing, I don't think we foresaw that, but Wasps are in a much worse position without a suitable home ground than they would have been with the prospect of a new stadium in 2014.”
He added: “The whole area would lose if Wasps disappeared, hopefully it won't come to that.
“I think it would be a massive blow especially for the children who are trained in the Wasps community arena.
THE man at the heart of the decision to axe the community stadium says Wasps and Wanderers have not contacted the council since.
Wycombe District Council Leader Cllr Alex Collingwood said his door remains open to club bosses but there has been silence following the scrapping of the project.
Neither side has suggested talks.
The plans were ditched soon after Cllr Collingwood took over the role following the May 2011 elections.
Prior to becoming leader, Cllr Collingwood had undertaken an in-depth study of the proposal as chairman of the scrutiny committee.
Their work raised a series of major concerns and questions, particularly about the impact on Green Belt and costs, which ultimately led to the decision to scrap it.
Cllr Collingwood told the Free Press soon after he took over that the clubs had not been in touch but the council was always happy to have talks.
He said yesterday there had still been no discussions – nearly a year on.
The Free Press asked if Cllr Collingwood or the Cabinet had any regrets on binning the idea of a ground at Wycombe Air Park.
In a statement, Cllr Collingwood responded: “We are sorry to hear about the club’s current difficulties.
“The decision about the council’s future involvement in the stadium project was made back in July based on information that was available at the time.
“We remain open to the clubs for future discussions, but haven’t heard from them since then.
“Wasps are a great asset to the district, both in terms of their community work and giving something for our young sports people to aspire to.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate to speculate on their future, but we hope that their difficulties reach a positive resolution in the near future.”