Time running out in bid to save Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium

Sports psychiatrist Steve Peters has thrown his weight behind the Save Don Valley Stadium campaign
Sports psychiatrist Steve Peters has thrown his weight behind the Save Don Valley Stadium campaign

Academics, activists and leading athletics figures are appealing to Sheffield Council for more time to save Don Valley stadium.

Campaign group the Friends of Don Valley will meet to ask for an extension to their application to make the venue a community asset, transferring ownership to them.

It comes after the council demanded more information last Tuesday, giving the team just days to answer its questions.

The group, led by coach Rob Creasey and former 400-metre runner Lewis Samuel, have accused city bosses of ‘moving the goalposts’ at the 11th hour.

They say the amount of detail being asked for as part of the initial application is similar to a full business plan, which they should be given six months to put together if the transfer gets the go-ahead.

With the council due to make a decision this week to approve the transfer, the applicants need more time to gather supporting information.

Rob, head coach at Don Valley and part of the campaign group, said: “The kind of information they are asking for will need months of work to put together.

“Critically, some of it is information only the council and Sheffield International Venues will have access to currently.

“The questions they are asking are the same questions our team will be asking as part of our extensive consultation and business planning after the decision has been made to give us time to work it up.

“The council has clearly moved the goalposts at the last minute, which is deeply worrying.’’

Community asset transfer is the process where land and/or buildings are transferred from the council to third sector organisations. It was brought in as part of the Government’s Localism Act in 2011.

As well as the application, the council has confirmed developers have expressed an interest in building a school on stadium land.

Steve Peters, head sports psychiatrist for the British Olympic team and Liverpool FC and also the dean of Sheffield University’s medical school, has now thrown his weight behind the bid to make the stadium a community asset.

He said: “I’m looking forward to working with the Friends over the next six months to look at using the stadium as a national exam centre for medical students.

“I hope a think tank of public ideas, along with experts from a range of disciplines, will come together to support the group’s bid, as long as the council gives them time.”

A council spokesman said: “To be clear, we have not asked the Friends of Don Valley to provide a business plan.

“We have offered them an opportunity to submit additional information to their application, and an extension in time for their submission should they wish to take it.”