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Walsall back Steve Jenkins' vision

Walsall | Sport | Published:

Walsall Council were today facing mounting pressure to bid for the Banks's Stadium after the Saddlers backed Steve Jenkins' vision.

Walsall Council were today facing mounting pressure to bid for the Banks's Stadium after the Saddlers backed Steve Jenkins' vision.

The club have broken their silence over the proposal by music producer and fan Jenkins for the council to own the ground, with chief executive Stefan Gamble labelling it a "unique opportunity."

The stadium has been on the market for two months but the local authority rejected the idea last week, insisting they had to cut £70million from their budget.

But lifelong fans Jenkins, a former managing director of Jive Records who has worked with Britney Spears, wants to safeguard the club's future and his idea now has the backing of the club.

Gamble said: "Since the announcement that the freehold was to be put on the market, it has always been my belief the ownership of the stadium should remain within the town.

"This represents a unique opportunity for the council to purchase one of the town's most valuable community assets and safeguard hundreds of local jobs.

"We welcome Steve Jenkins' call for the council to purchase the freehold of the Banks's Stadium site and, in effect, secure the long term future of the club and league football within the town for generations to come.

"The benefits of council ownership, not only for the club, but the council itself are significant.

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"The importance of the club to the town should not be underestimated."

The land is likely to top £5million and there is believed to be other interest.

Gamble realises money is tight at the council but believes the stadium would be an asset.

He said: "The club is in a very strong position financially and is not looking for a 'hand-out' by the council or anyone else.

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"I am fully aware the council faces stringent budget constraints and cuts, including job losses, but the purchase of the freehold represents a very sound financial investment.

"This investment could actually cut right across the difficult issues currently faced by the council.

"The rental income, which is linked to RPI, would offer any investor a significant return on their investment.

"The council could apply to borrow from the Prudential Fund so any purchase would be no burden whatsoever on local tax payers.

"If you consider the level of rental income this would mean, the council could generate additional funds to be reinvested into the community."

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