The fortunes of Dulwich Hamlet performances on the pitch are not matched off the pitch and the club faces an uncertain future with a team of developers and council officials unclear on how best to proceed.
Rightly so, Dulwich Hamlet Supporters’ Trust has not thrown its hat in the ring in favour of either side, despite being offered full ownership should Hadley Property Group’s proposal be fully delivered.
It must be remembered that this property group came to Hamlet’s rescue as the club spiralled into administration last year, even having to try to find the money to pay the electric bill before a Saturday game could start.
At the same time on the actual pitch under the stewardship of Gavin Rose, the club, having won promotion to the Ryman Premier, only lost out on a chance of promotion to the Conference by just one goal last season. Through his Aspire academy promoting local youth talent the club is still going from strength to strength and its community credentials are impressive.
Hadley plans to construct luxury apartments and move Dulwich Hamlet’s pitch to the Astro-turf part of Greendale on Metropolitan Open Land, which is currently used for five-a-side games.
But the club’s 21-year lease is now due to expire and Hadley needs to be able to renew the lease.
However, its formal application is not expected until June or July, which will mean that it probably won’t be heard until the autumn after public consultation.
The Trust fear even if Hadley wins it might not succeed in getting permission to construct a stadium that meets league standards on Metropolitan Open Land.
At the same time Southwark Council, which owns the freehold, wants to build a new park, but others including the Friends of Greendale want it to remain an open space for ecological and wildlife purposes.
Given the club’s distinguished history and its current track record as a community asset it is vital that the council now gives the fans a commitment on a full freehold for whatever future ground they might have, to ensure its rightful place at the heart of local football.