POMPEY’S axed training ground plans have left a council fighting to claw back £330,000 from former owner Sacha Gaydamak, The News can reveal.
The money relates to an agreement signed by Gosport Borough Council and Miland Development 2004 over the proposed multi-million pound training ground in the Alver Valley, Lee-on-the-Solent.
The News has seen a copy of the contract drawn up in December 2008 which shows Mr Gaydamak’s company agreeing to pay the council £330,000 if it did not go ahead with plans to build the facilities.
But three years on and with the training ground proposals axed, the council is still trying to obtain the money through the courts.
Tory council leader Councillor Mark Hook said a court hearing was listed for next week.
‘The only thing I would say at this stage is I do not want to jeopardise anything with the deal,’ he said.
‘We are talking about taxpayers’ money.
‘We will do whatever it takes to make sure the agreement is met and I wouldn’t want to jeopardise that amount of money.’
The agreement between Gosport Borough Council and Miland Development 2004 – of which Mr Gaydamak is a director – related to land at Cherque Farm, which was made available as a site for Pompey’s new training ground.
The club, whose players train at Wellington Sports Club in Eastleigh, was given the green light to build a 35-acre complex there in July 2008.
This would have included 15 sports pitches, changing rooms, medical facilities and a gym.
Two full-size pitches would have also been made available for use by the community.
But the land deal meant Gosport Borough Council had to hand back £330,000 to Cherque Farm builders, Persimmon Homes.
The developer had been required to give the cash as part of a legal agreement to provide leisure amenities in the area.
But Pompey’s plan meant this was no longer needed.
So as not to lose out on the cash, Gosport council drew up a contract with Miland Development 2004 in which the company agreed to pay £330,000 if it didn’t go ahead with the underlease on the land.
Richard Mackay, chairman of the Lee-on-the-Solent Residents’ Association, said: ‘The council is quite right to take them to court.
‘The council should do all it can to get the money back. We want to see that area developed in some way for community use.
‘It’s a fantastic piece of land. It could make a good playing field which is good for younger people.
‘It has gone on long enough and it would be good to bring this to a head and do something with it.’
Cllr Dave Smith, who was leader of the council at the time the deal was struck, refused to comment.
Mr Gaydamak’s legal representatives would not comment when contacted by The News.
Club has no new plans for a training ground
POMPEY will stay at their current training ground for the foreseeable future, the club has said.
Portsmouth Football Club has spent years searching for a permanent training ground for its players and a number of sites across the area have caught the eye of investors.
But projects to construct new facilities in Titchfield and Gosport have fallen through.
A site in Eastney was also considered by chief executive David Lampitt.
But the current grounds at Wellington Sports Club in Eastleigh will remain Pompey’s home for training in the short term.
Meanwhile, the club says it still has ambitions of owning its own ground at some point.
A spokeswoman for the club said: ‘The manager and the team staff are very happy with our current training facility.
‘We have invested in improving the facility over the summer and we are committed to staying there for the foreseeable future.
‘However we will continue to look for opportunities to own our own facility in the long term.’