Southend United’s chairman Ron Martin has revealed Blues’ new stadium will happen regardless of whether Roots Hall is sold or not.

The Echo can today reveal a glimpse into the club’s bright new future, with the first image released of the futuristic new stadium, complete with 21,000 fans, and tower blocks overlooking the pitch.

Since the Shrimpers’ long-awaited move to Fossetts Farm, off Eastern Avenue, got Government approval in 2008, supermarket giant Sainsbury’s was set to bankroll the scheme.

But last month, it emerged that real estate firm British Land were in advance discussions to fund a huge retail park and cinema as part of the new stadium complex.

Speaking exclusively to the Echo, Blues chairman Ron Martin insisted while Sainsbury’s is still contracted to the Blues, the sale of Roots Hall is no longer integral to getting Fossetts Farm up and running.

He said: “What will happen to Roots Hall? This is a question I am frequently asked.

“We remain contracted with Sainsbury’s and their countrywide review of new, and existing, stores continues.

“Where they are contractually committed Sainsbury’s will, I am sure, wish to fulfil their obligations.

“Supporters may have read that Sainsbury’s were planning to purchase Bristol Rovers’ ground. Whilst contracts were exchanged that remained conditional. Sainsbury’s, following a review of their requirement, pulled out and Bristol Rovers sued them and lost.

“Shopping, and particularly, food over recent years has changed and supermarkets, whether it is Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda or Morrison’s are no longer building ‘hypermarkets’.

“The current trend is for smaller stores and Sainsbury’s aspirations are no different.

“However, whatever Sainsbury’s deliberations, the club’s move from Roots Hall to Fossetts Farm will proceed under our arrangements with British Land.

“The proceeds from the eventual sale of Roots Hall will be required to contribute to phase two of the stadium plans but the club’s move and progression will take place as a result of the current plans we are advancing.”


Ron Martin

Phase one of the plan, under the previously approved Fossetts Farm plans was for a three sider stadium.

The final west stand would include the remaining seats, taking the total to 21,000 – almost double Roots Hall, an ageing venue that cannot be expanded because it is close to residential homes.

Mr Martin added: “For the time being, Roots Hall remains on the back burner and if we have to re-visit the master planning to provide a different mix of retail and residential development to regenerate this ‘gateway’ site, then so be it.

“For now our entire focus is on progressing the club’s plans with British Land.

“The submission of an amended planning application will take place in December and we both wish to press on with the development as soon as Southend Council has considered the proposals.”

The grandiose plans always included a retail park, but they have been extended to include a 35-store complex, unit space for ten restaurants, a 12 screen Cineworld multiplex cinema, and 1,000 parking spaces for shoppers.

The scheme also includes 240 homes in three tower blocks, two of which will be built onto the ground, and a 131-bedroom hotel next to the stadium.

There will be 830 parking spaces for matchdays in land north of the stadium, off Fossetts Way.

Later this week, supporters can see the masterplan for the site at Roots Hall, on Friday from 2pm to 8pm, and the following day from 10am to 2pm.


Proposed masterplan for the site

Fans give a cautious welcome

Fans gave a cautious welcome to Blues’ latest stadium news.

The club’s supporters have long awaited a move to a 21st century stadium.

The club broke its silence on Fossetts Farm last month, revealing British Land were in advanced discussions to be a partner in the project, and Cineworld had signed on the dotted line to create a cinema there.

Jamie Forsyth, who is co-editor of the All at Sea fanzine, said: “It’s encouraging that the hold-ups over Roots Hall should no longer impact on our ability to start work at Fossetts Farm.

"The Roots Hall site is a valuable piece of land sited at the gateway to Southend’s town centre and, whether it is to Sainsbury’s or another party, there won’t be any problems selling it.

“Supporters have waited for so long for some positive developments about Fossetts Farm so we’d cautiously welcome this news.”

And fellow season ticket holder Chris Bent, 43, from Wickford, added: “Until recently, I didn’t think there was much happening, but obviously with everything that has come out in the last few weeks, it seems we could be playing in a new stadium in the next few years.

“I’m not surprised about Sainsbury’s – look at Morrisons in Pitsea, they have started building a store there but look unlikely to occupy it.”

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Wembley - also designed by the Fossetts Farm architects

Stadium architects also designed Wembley

The stadium's architects Populous have a glittering CV, having built some of the UK’s finest venues.

Southend United have instructed the firm to construct the new venue in Fossetts Farm.

The firm builds venues around the world, and they jointly designed the new Wembley Stadium, plus the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – three venues used by that country’s national football team.

The group also designed Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, as well as a host of Super Bowl venues across the Atlantic.

As well as Fossetts Farm, the firm has been commissioned to design Tottenham’s new stadium, as well as an extension to Manchester City’s City of Manchester ground.