*BS*JIM PARMENTER has pledged to underwrite the funding of the new clubhouse – providing fans can raise £30,000 by April.
*BF*The Whites chairman and his wife, Sally, in another extraordinary gesture of goodwill, last night declared that they would personally guarantee that the complex will be built this summer.
Centre Spot 2008 will cost around £150,000 to build and so long as the Dover fanbase and local businesses enthusiastically support the project, Jim will take full responsibility in ensuring building starts at the end of the season.
He told doverathletic.com: “I was in the Centre Spot over the weekend. The roof is like a sieve and going to cave in at any moment.
“There are problems with the electrics and the whole place is on its last legs.
“So Sally and I discussed it and decided, if we can get a contribution, we’ll underwrite the balance to make sure it happens this summer. Otherwise, we may not have a clubhouse at all next season.”
Initially, the club announced it needed around £100,000 from various fundraising schemes to make the project viable but it soon became apparent that this figure was not going to be reached by the spring.
And Jim said: “The way the fundraising was going, it was unlikely that we were going to be able to make a positive decision. We’ve taken the decision to go ahead with the project, find ways of financing it as we go along and personally underwrite the balance at the end.
“I’m hoping that this shows everyone that we mean business. Also I want to lead from the front and hopefully this will encourage everyone to join me in making a contribution towards building a facility which will be a bigger asset to the club and town than the current Centre Spot.”
It is not just cash support that Jim and Dover Athletic are seeking. In a community-based project such as this, there are many ways fans and businesses can help.
Jim said: “There are a lot of businesses happy to help, and can do so easier without donating cash.
“Some businesses can help provide us with some of the fixtures, i.e. toilets, wash basins, or who can help us with the plastering, plumbing, or electrics. Even someone who can find us some scaffolding would be a help.
“We’re starting from scratch. We’re going to be building using concrete and blocks. There will be internal fittings, such as doors and windows, and then of course there will be the floors and carpets, roofing, all these kinds of things.
“Then when it’s all built, we can be helped with the decorating or supplies. There are 101 ways for businesses and individuals to help and that’s what we’re hoping to get. That will make it a building that we, the local community, have built ourselves.”
*Q1*Jim is pressing ahead with the project straight away.
He added: “The next stage is for us to talk to building contractors and obtain the best price and options.
“We’ll finalise the building plans to ensure we’ve got enough space to accommodate everything we want – and go through the rest of the formalities to get a prompt start date of the end of the season.”
Since Jim and his consortium of local businessmen took over the club in January 2005, Dover Athletic has cleared its CVA debt, halved its historic overdraft and wiped out six-figure debts.
It is common knowledge that Jim and Sally have funded a large amount of these themselves.
When asked if he was mad, Jim jested: “Yes, I am. Bonkers, in fact. But we’re not here to make money.
“I’m looking at making Dover Athletic a self-financing business, one that won’t need individuals to keep sticking their hands in their pockets.
“The long-term aim is for the club to stand on its own two feet and this facility is going to be such a big revenue generator.
“Each day that passes with the old complex is one which is seeing us waste revenue potential for Dover Athletic. We need to act now and get things moving.”
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Meanwhile, the Whites chairman is disappointed with recent attendances, especially the 576 that watched the top-of-the-table clash with Worthing on Saturday.
He said: “I have to confess I’m disappointed. Fans told us they wanted to be entertained. We’ve gone out and brought people in who are doing that.
“We had 1,100-plus for the Tooting game and got nearly 600 less for the Worthing match. That is so disappointing. I’m putting it down to the bad weather but we did advertise everywhere, including on the radio stations, that the game was going ahead still, yet barely anyone turned up.
“I hope that there is not any apathy out there because we should get gates of 1,000. That should be achievable now with the football we’re playing and results we’re getting.
“For the club to move forward, we need to see people coming through the turnstiles. I hope this is just a blip.”