Numbers up for Bingo in Lerowe Road

IT'S not only football that s to cease at Wisbech Town s Lerowe Road ground but twice-weekly bingo as well, forced out because directors wanted organisers to provide more cash for the club. In the week the club announc


IT'S not only football that's to cease at Wisbech Town's Lerowe Road ground but twice-weekly bingo as well, forced out because directors wanted organisers to provide more cash for the club.

In the week the club announced it had exchanged contracts on a new site in Lynn Road, it was revealed that a dispute with club officials would end a 40-year tradition of bingo.

Mandy Boughen, who runs the bingo sessions for the 30 or so mainly elderly members, said: "It is no longer viable to have it there. After 40 years why should they start charging now?"

John Petch, newly-appointed club chairman, said: "We obviously regret that the bingo club has decided to move on after so many years."

"We have to look at the financial implications of running the football club and feel that, at this time, it was no longer viable to offer the facility at a loss, with few purchases being made at the bar and, in some cases, members bringing in their own refreshments.

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"We were unable to reach a compromise and wish them well at their new venue."

The move could turn out to be a loss to Wisbech Town, which has received between £600 and £800 worth of equipment each year from the bingo sessions.

But Mrs Boughen said: "After the suggestion had been made for more money the old people asked 'shall we move elsewhere'."

Club directors originally suggested to the bingo club that members pay £1 to play but the regulars refused, claiming they already pay a membership fee to the football club.

And when a second idea for the football club to get a higher percentage of money from the bingo was also refused, bingo club members felt there was no alternative but to move.

Mrs Boughen said: "The old people had a vote and they wanted to keep it in the village. Our last game will be on September 28 and we are going to the Bell pub at Walsoken. They will have the money for their charity."

Meanwhile, Mr Petch says he will be concentrating on the move to an eight-acre ground off Lynn Road, less than half a mile from the club's current home at Fenland Park.

Once planning permission has been obtained, the club can begin to build a ground that meets Southern League standards.

Mr Petch, appointed chairman after Barry Carter stepped down from the position at the weekend, said: "The move to the new ground is the first step in taking the club to a new level. Now that we have exchanged contracts, the club must do everything it can to get more people involved and develop all aspects of the club."

He added: "As well as building a stadium that can accommodate at least 2,000 people, we aim to develop facilities that can generate an income for the club and encourage the involvement of the community."

The club will now attempt to raise funds through grants to develop the ground and its facilities. A second pitch will be laid at the new site and the club envisages that this will not only serve as a training ground but also host community activities and other lower-level football fixtures.

The new site, owned by Mr J Freeman, is currently agricultural land with a farm shop. It is just on the Norfolk side of the Cambridgeshire/Norfolk border but Mr Petch is aiming to maintain Wisbech Town's affiliation with the Cambridgeshire Football Association.

He said: "We intend to base our registered office in Wisbech because we know how important it is to continue our links with the Wisbech community."

Wisbech Town will be holding a meeting within the next month to give supporters the opportunity to raise questions about the new ground and the short-term future of the club.