Stoke & Staffordshire

Cannock sports clubs' future unclear as home goes on sale

Access to the Morris Ground has been blocked for about a month
Image caption Access to the Morris Ground has been blocked for about a month

A town's longstanding cricket and hockey clubs are facing an uncertain future as their home goes up for sale.

The Morris Ground in Chase Park, Cannock, is going under the hammer on Wednesday as the body that runs it has gone into receivership.

Sport England said the sale was the result of financial difficulties over the last five years.

Both Cannock Cricket Club - formed in 1860 - and Cannock Hockey Club play home games at the site.

About 1,000 people use the venue where there are also bowls and football facilities, squash courts and a gym.

It is owned by the overarching Cannock Cricket & Hockey Club and it is that body, not the individual sports clubs, which has gone into receivership.

The process is being managed by Duff and Phelps, which has been contacted for comment.

Image caption David Robinson says the lack of a home ground is costing the cricket club money

David Robinson, chairman of Cannock Cricket Club - for which ex-England batsman Kevin Pietersen once played - said there had been no access to the ground since 28 June, and it was on sale with a guide price of £295,000.

The cricket club is fundraising to keep going as without a home, Mr Robinson says, it is having to pay to use other clubs' grounds, while additionally losing money it would otherwise make from people using facilities.

Mr Robinson says there are also concerns a buyer may not want to keep it as a sporting site.

"The fear is... we just don't know where we are going," he said.

"We need to see ourselves to September, then see who purchases it and see how we might be able to move forward."

Image caption Chris Mayer played hockey in the 1996 Olympics

Chris Mayer from Cannock Hockey Club, who represented Great Britain in the 1996 Olympics, said: "It is devastating - the fact we don't know what the future is, is very upsetting.

"There has been a hockey club in Cannock for 114 years, and we don't know if there is going to be a hockey club come September.

"We are very hopeful, and we have got places lined up, but it is not the same as having your own home."

Sport England said it was "disappointed" the site was on sale.

"We look forward to having a constructive dialogue to ensure that the successful bidder recognises the need to maintain and enhance the existing sports usage at the site as part of their future plans," it said.

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