Seriously has Only Fools and Horses had a 2018 reboot with Del Boy and Co moving to the sleepy village of North Ferriby? The way owner Jamie Waltham is going on you would certainly think so.
After his controversial plans to move the club to Dunswell were knocked back by the fans Waltham’s latest “proposal” is to use the clubs current Church Road ground as a traveller’s site. Waltham stated at the weekend that he was seriously considering an idea that bring in over £2000 a week in revenue for the club. The proposal was quickly quashed by the Parish Council, who own the ground, as this would be illegal under the terms of the lease. In true Del Boy style though Waltham seems to think there may be a way around that. He spoke to BBC Radio Humberside’s David Burns about his plans.
He began by making his frustration with the local residents clear, “Listen there is a real frustration for me that the club is so poorly supported by the residents of North Ferriby, I think it’s around 2.5% of them come and watch a great level of football, the level of football is not appreciated, in fact a lot of them spend their time moaning about it.”
When asked if his proposal was serious he was quick to respond and said he was looking at extra revenue streams after the meeting with fans on Monday, “This is serious, it’s not a joke, at the end of the day we had a meeting with the fans on Monday, I have spoken about moving the level of football, I think it would get more people watching but they don’t want to do that and I’ve listened to what they have said and asked them what they want to do with it.
“The fans have gone away now to decide on what sort of structure they want for the club, whether it’s fan owned or not but in terms of the residents the other 97.5% need to realise the wheels are in motion on this.”
Waltham seemed adamant that this could happen at any time and pointed to the fact that travellers won’t pay much attention to the site lease, “I saw the article the other day with the Parish Council quoting that using the ground as a traveller’s site would not be allowed under the lease, travellers don’t care what that lease says, if they see somewhere that they like they will come.”
Next came to most startling part of the interview as Waltham essentially threatened the residents of the village, get involved or your house prices will suffer, “I spoke to a prominent local estate agent and he said to me that nationally on average a travellers site can reduce the value of properties in the area by 10%, he lives in the village and he said if as an example there are 2,000 homes in Ferriby valued at approximately £200,000 each that means £40 million in value could be wiped off the houses in the village with the introduction of a travellers site.
“The residents need to know that is what we are looking at. I don’t care whether the fans own it, the residents own it (North Ferriby United), I just want an ownership structure that sees as many residents as possible supporting the club, if a threat of losing 10% of their property value makes them get involved then now is the time to do it.”
When challenged on the nature of his proposals Waltham said he was speaking of facts not threats, “This is facts, not threats, this is what I’m looking at doing and I’m making them aware of the potential outcome of that. All the travellers I’ve met are good people, it would be a great revenue stream for the club and would bring a diversity to village that it doesn’t currently have. But those are the facts it could reduce the price of property, I always listen to what people say and they don’t want the move to Dunswell, I just want the residents to get involved and show a bit of support for the club. We have 21 youth teams and a great first team level of football.”
Burnsy asked Waltham if he or the club were in financial trouble, “The club is in the best financial state it has been for well over three years, listen the previous owners pumped a lot of money in but I’ve always spoken about sustainability, I’ve reduced the outgoings and wage bill to less than a third of what it was when I came in, We are in a good financial position but there has still been a shortfall this year due to the changeover with the previous owners, season pass and pre-season friendly revenue, this would be a great extra revenue stream for the club.”
Finally Waltham was asked about the legality of the proposal, “From my side everything would need to be above board and discussed at length but when travellers see a site they like they tend to just roll up.”
So there you have it, this is likely to be all hot air but Waltham seemed pretty adamant in his thoughts on this issue and his perceived lack of support from the residents of the Village. The problem is as usual with the Del Boy of Hull he is going about it in completely the wrong way.
Pic Credit: VFTAE