Leicester City In The Second World War: Plans To Evict The Club From Filbert Street
During the first half of 1944, preparations for the liberation of western Europe by the Allied forces were well underway. The first stages of this invasion were the D-Day Landings in Normandy on 6 June, 1944.
Great Britain had become a huge military base and arsenal. Nine million tonnes of supplies and equipment had crossed the Atlantic to Britain, as had over 2M troops from 12 different countries.
As much as 1.4M of these were from the United States, but there were also substantial numbers of British and Canadian troops. In addition, there were forces from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, France, Greece, New Zealand, Norway, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Poland.
Planning was well in motion for D-Day.
These massive preparations hinted at a brighter future, albeit one fraught with danger. However, the situation at Leicester City Football Club looked anything but bright.
The very existence of the Club was threatened by none other than the forerunner of the present City Council, the Leicester City Corporation.
As owners of the Filbert Street ground, the Corporation was planning to evict the Football Club from the venue. They wished to redevelop the site in order to extend the nearby electricity power station, of which the cooling towers overshadowed Filbert Street.
The directors’ minutes for 1944/45 reveal how the story unfolded.
In February 1944, the directors were made aware that their current arrangement of leasing Filbert Street from the Corporation might not be renewed when it expired in March 1948. Instead, the suggestion seemed to be that the lease would have to be renewed annually.
Power station near Filbert Street
The power station near Filbert Street needed to be extended over the years to come.
A meeting with the Town Planning Committee three months later confirmed the directors’ fears. They were informed that the ‘electricity people’ would need the space occupied by the ground to meet future demand.
All the Committee could offer was the vague statement that, under a post-war reconstruction scheme, the tenants of a new sports stadium that might be built, might be Leicester City.
The Committee made it clear that there would be no possibility of the Club ever buying this projected stadium.
They also said that the debris from the demolition of Filbert Street could be used for banking the terracing at a future new ground, but that if Leicester City were ever to relocate there at some future date, the cash-strapped football club would have to erect the stands, cooperating with the Town Planning Committee over the design.
The new ground would also have to be made suitable for other events and the contents of the new ground would be under the control of the Town and Planning Committee.
Power station near Filbert Street
The power station loomed large over the Filbert Street pitch.
In the meantime, the Committee advised the directors’ to make an immediate application for a short-term extension of the existing lease.
The Club responded by applying for a 14-year lease, but were informed in July 1944 that they could only have a seven-year extension, subject to the approval of the City Corporation. This was not acceptable to the Club.
Negotiations continued and, by October 1944, a 10-and-a-half year lease was offered at a rent of £200 per year, on condition that after September 1953, the Corporation could give the Club two years notice to leave.
This was no basis for long-term security for the Football Club, especially as in December 1944 it was announced that the electricity scheme for the county was to be completed within 10 years, with preliminary excavations beginning in two years.
This prompted one of the directors, Tom S. Bloor to contact a ‘competent estate agent’ with a view to finding a suitable alternative site to Filbert Street for the Club to buy.
By January, a site had been identified on Blackbird Road, close to the greyhound and speedway stadium, and later that month plans were prepared for the development of the Blackbird Road site.
Blackbird Road Stadium
Initial plans could have seen the Club move to a venue on Blackbird Road.
However Mr Parker, the owner of the site, was unwilling to sell or to lease the land to the Club and, by February, the Blackbird Road plan was dropped.
At this stage, the position seemed hopeless, especially as the Corporation stated again that the Filbert Street land would be required by 1953 and that the terms of the lease they were offering couldn’t be altered.
On 19 July, 1945, at the County Rooms in Leicester, the Club held an EGM of shareholders and loan holders, followed by a meeting of selected supporters.
These meetings resolved to refuse to sign the lease offered by the Corporation, to obtain security of tenure for Filbert Street, and not to expend any large sum of money to repair the Club’s assets at Filbert Street until a reasonable continuity of tenure was assured.
In the end, the Corporation conceded. It was reported on 7 August that the Club would be able to lease the ground until 1962 and would be guaranteed an alternative ground in the event of Filbert Street being required by the Corporation.
In addition, the Corporation was willing to indemnify the Club to the extent of £20,000 to secure its efficient functioning while at Filbert Street.
The threat to evict Leicester City from Filbert Street, which put the Club’s whole future at risk, was over for the time being.
- Share via Facebook
- Share via Twitter
- Share via Email
- Share via Whatsapp
- Share via Facebook Messenger
คัดลอก URL ลงคลิปบอร์ด
URL copied to clipboard