Nick Higgs: Bristol Rovers stadium decision a 'kick in teeth'

Nick Higgs
Nick Higgs has been Bristol Rovers chairman since 2008

Bristol Rovers chairman Nick Higgs says he feels he has been "kicked in the teeth" after the High Court ruled in favour of Sainsbury's pulling out of a deal to buy their Memorial Stadium.

That deal would have allowed Rovers to build a new £40m football stadium elsewhere in the city.

However, the club must now decide whether to appeal the decision or look at alternative options.

"It's a huge disappointment," Higgs told BBC Points West.

"A massive kick in the teeth for the football club, fans and the wider Bristol community and we have been let down big time."

Higgs revealed the legal process has cost them around £500,000 and the advice they have been given is to appeal the decision.

Bristol Rovers proposed new stadium from above
The football club wants to move to a new 21,700-seat stadium

"The initial legal advice we have had is there is very strong grounds for appeal," he said.

"We've got no choice, we will find a way to afford to do it. The advice we have had is that we have strong legal grounds, we would be letting the club down if we didn't follow it through."

Higgs bemoaned the decision and said he was still hopeful of moving to a new 21,700-seater stadium in Stoke Gifford.

"We've entered into a contract which has been reneged, there has been numerous breaches and a decision has been made on a technicality," he added.

"I don't feel culpable, we've done everything in our power to try and bring the club a new stadium to offer sustainability. Clearly we can't stay where we are, clearly we can't keep losing money, there is a limit to how much money people will put into this club and we need to find a sustainable outcome and that is a new stadium."

'Disappointment and kick in teeth'

Higgs said the decision would not affect manager Darrell Clarke's playing budget and criticised the supermarket chain for their behaviour.

"I feel for the fans, council, mayor, MPs," he said. "Sainsbury's have let down Bristol in a massive way. Bristol is the loser."

Sainsbury's agreed to buy the Memorial Stadium in 2011 and lease it to the League Two club while the new stadium was built.

It argued that planning conditions over a new store were not met on time. The supermarket has said the sale is "no longer commercially viable".

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