Members of Fawley AFC were present at the meeting called by Waterside Sports and Social Club (Casually still known as Esso Club) on Monday 12th December and despite being aware of long term financial difficulties we were stunned – as were staff members and other attendees who operate events and organisations from the club - by the announcement that it would have to close its doors immediately.
The decision by Esso Club to cease trading has resulted in immediate job losses, multiple scheduled events cancelled including a popular play to be performed in the new year by the Waterside Theatre Group and the immediate threat of closure to all sports operating from the Esso club site including our football club.
In a statement provided by ExxonMobil for the meeting on Monday it was mentioned that they had hoped the sports sections functioning from Esso club – including the cricket, tennis and bowls which are predominantly summer sports - would be able to continue however we believe that ExxonMobil aren’t fully aware of the potential implications to our football club as a result of Esso clubs decision to immediately close their facilities.
As we were unsure what access we would have to our facilities and whether we would have running water or electricity, we have taken precautious measures by cancelling our two upcoming home matches for our senior reserve side as well as our under 16’s home match which were all due to take place in the next week, and consequently we have issued a statement to the relevant leagues (Wessex league and Wyvern league) explaining our current situation.
Fawley AFC is a section of Esso Club - as with other organisations operating permanently from the site such as the Waterside Theatre production company and our closely associated cricket club - and collectively all of our equipment and facilities is deemed as Esso Club assets. This is despite the fact that all of our football club assets have been acquired and purchased with funds totally raised by its members and the generous time, effort and resources put in by those who wanted our local club to succeed at the highest level possible. Therefor we believe that all sports teams and clubs operating from Esso Club would face similar closure threats to Waterside Theatre. With regards to Fawley AFC this is perhaps more urgent than the other sports teams due to the immediate requirement to fulfil home fixtures for the four teams that currently play their matches at our Esso Club football pitch.
We sincerely hope that the local community are as passionate about keeping the facilities open as we are. The benefits to the local community when also considering our partnership with Fawley Falcons youth section are wide reaching with further potential to promote healthy lifestyles through local multi-agency partnerships and we take pride in providing competitive team sport and regular physical activity to so many residents on the Waterside.
In the last 24 hours we have received tremendous support both from local residents and organisations who have offered to help in any way that they can. The Chairman has sent a correspondence to ExxonMobil expressing his concerns about our current situation and we are engaging in all possible discussions with both Esso Club and other organisations operating from the club which we hope will lead to positive outcomes for everyone involved. As always we will endeavor to keep our players and supporters up to date internally with any developments over the coming days and weeks.
We are business as usual with our well attended training sessions for senior and youth teams at Applemore Schools 4G training facility, and our first team have an away game against New Forest neighbours Bashley on Saturday 17th December and it would be great to have as much support as possible for what is a big game for our season.
Kevin Mitchell (Chairman) and Callum Tanner
On behalf of Fawley AFC
Up the Oilers!