Summary of discussion between Nuneaton Town Supporters’ Co-operative and Norman Smurthwaite on 15 June
Norman Smurthwaite kindly accepted an invitation from Nuneaton Town Supporters’ Co-operative and met with four Board members on 15 June.
Norman explained a little about his background. He is a Coventry kid and has a property portfolio in the region of £120 million, including hotels.
He received an approach from Lee Thorn to purchase the football stadium at Liberty Way and this was concluded shortly afterwards on 8 June 18. Norman explained that Lee Thorn remained the owner of the football club. As he is currently owner of Port Vale FC, Norman is unable from getting involved with the running of the football club. However, as landlord he is aware that he is responsible for the upkeep of the ground and it is in need of attention.
The groundsmen from Port Vale have already met up with Phil Williams (Boro groundsman) and drawn up a plan of action. Essential renovation work on the pitch is underway, and the Port Vale groundsmen will continue to work with Boro ground staff in the lead up to the new season.
Norman has arranged to loan of a generator and purchased diesel which means the pitch is being irrigated. The generator will also be a stop gap until the electric supply is restored, which could take a few months.
Other work to be undertaken as landlord includes roof repairs, bar refurbishment, and installation of a PA system previously used by Port Vale.
Board members mentioned their thoughts regarding a disabled facility at the ground, something which the Co-Op had been working towards for a number of years. Norman stated that Port Vale had an excellent disabled stand and invited us to submit our plans to him directly.
Although Norman is unable to get involved with running of the football club, he is able to use his experience to advise Lee Thorn on certain issues, including, changing catering arrangements to ‘in house’, recommending Port Vale kit supplier to provide kit. He will also be offering Lee advice on stocking the club shop.
Norman understands that the football club are looking to issue season tickets from the beginning of July and that the football club are also looking for offsite training facilities and are keen to re-engage with Bramcote. The Co-Op said that we had contact with Bramcote and would put them back in touch with the football club.
Norman explained that he was keen to get in touch with previous sponsors of the football club to explore opportunities for them in respect of the ground, and the Co-Op said it would contact the people/business it knew regarding this.
We thanked Norman for his time and emphasised our desire to work with him as ground owner and hoped this will be the start of regular dialogue.