The plight of Mildenhall Stadium has been taken up by West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, three months after the owners first contacted him.
The stadium’s owners are still awaiting a court decision on damages and costs following the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of the owners of the nearby Fenlands bungalow, who began a nuisance action six years ago. They fear court costs could close the stadium.
On Monday Mr Hancock issued a statement saying he had sought the support of the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in keeping the stadium open.
He said: “I have followed the proceedings of this case closely and I am doing everything I can to stop the closure.
“The stadium embodies generations of memories and it lies at the centre of the community in Mildenhall. I am delighted that so many local people, of all ages, have come forward and contacted.”
Michael Coventry, who runs the stadium his family own, said: “We’re pleased that he’s come on board but, unfortunately, we can’t hide our disappointment that this wasn’t said three months ago when we first contacted him.”
An online petition closes tomorrow with more than 14,000 signatures and Mr Coventry said a paper petition, which will continue, has at least 10,000 names. But because the petition could only be signed by over-18s, youngsters who use the stadium were asked to write to their MPs and to Mr Hancock.
Mr Coventry said: “I can only assume that’s why he’s decided to do something.
“We’re hoping the Government can do something to allow the stadium to continue and, ultimately, we want them to change the law.”
Fenlands’ owners told the courts they did not realise what the stadium was and how frequently it was used when they bought the property. The case has been to the High, Appeal and Supreme Courts. The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court was correct that in ‘coming to a nuisance’ the owners were entitled to damages and use restrictions.
Mr Coventry said: “We had a complete right to do what we were doing, these people came here and expected us to change. Under this ruling, nothing is safe. It will go on until it’s something big like someone trying to close Manchester United.”
He said he hoped Mr Hancock would see the stadium and its proximity to Fenlands for himself. “Of all these people who have passed judgement on us, not one has been here,” he added.
The online petition can be signed at the Government epetitions website until 10.14am on June 26.