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Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 11:02 UK

Landlords begin consultation over Cambridge Utd ground

Abbey Stadium
Cambridge United have played their football at Abbey Stadium since 1932

Cambridge United's landlords have unveiled initial plans to relocate the club to a new site.

Grosvenor Estates bought the Abbey Stadium in March with the intention of developing a new community facility.

After meeting fans on Monday night, Ed Skeates of Grosvenor told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "It's unlikely the new stadium will be built in five years.

"But five to seven years is a realistic working timescale for this. It's a real opportunity for the club."

The U's sold the Abbey to property developer Bideawhile in 2004 in a bid to avoid administration, which ultimately failed.

Grosvenor paid £3.5m to take the ground from Bideawhile with the aim of building a new home for the U's and redeveloping the Abbey for housing or retail units.

Relocation has been mooted in the past with several potential sites having been assessed and then rejected.

Skeates has said Grosvenor are keen to hear the views of all interested parties and have made no firm decisions over where the new stadium will be located.

"We'd like to take the approach of having a completely blank sheet of paper as we've got our own plans for building financial backing which undermined previous projects," he said.

"In the short term Grosvenor will be funding all the development costs, but in the long term it's about commercial development and commercial funding."

Grosvenor want to provide a facility which will attract outside investment and have not ruled out a link-up with Cambridge University or other local sports clubs.

"Cambridge United is the obvious primary candidate for using the ground, but co-usage with other football clubs or the rugby club could be considered, but we're aware of the potential shortcomings," he said.

The U's have agreed a deal to reduce their annual rent in return for supporting Grosvenor with the move.

The local community, including the club's fans, will be consulted during every step of the development process.

Chris White, from local development partners Wrenbridge, has said that his organisation are on board to advise on football issues

"We are providing the local knowledge, helping to identify potential new sites and are also football mad, so we understand the football issues," he said.

"This type of project has been undertaken frequently over the last decade and there are plenty of good and bad examples to look at and learn lessons from."

The consultation process began with Monday night's meeting organised by supporters group Cambridge Fans United and is set to continue over the coming weeks.

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