According to a number of sources, Southend United representatives are currently in ‘advanced talks’ over a move to Canvey Island that will see the entire outfit move a few miles west down the River Thames.
The shock move will essentially see the club ‘merged’ with Canvey Island FC who currently play in the Ryman Premier League, although Southend News Network understands that the newly-formed outfit will remain as ‘Southend United’ due to the League One club having the bigger profile.
Our main source, who didn’t want to be identified, confirmed that the move has been progressed to an advanced stage of planning due to ‘ongoing frustrations’ with the construction of a new stadium on Fossett’s Farm – a site that lies on the outskirts of Southend.
He said: ‘With every week that passes, both the club and the fans are growing more and more concerned about the future of Southend United, but there now appears to be a glimmer of hope for all football fans in South Essex.’
‘By moving to Canvey Island, Southend United will be able to build a new stadium on the site of Park Lane, and the proposed 30,000-seater ground will be the perfect home for what is being described as a ‘South Essex Superclub.’
‘Although some fans of Canvey Island FC may be upset about losing the club’s identity in the move, they should remember that almost overnight they will become proud supporters of a team in the third tier of English football. Bosses of both clubs do not believe that it will be a problem to get permission from The Football League.’
‘MK Dons were allowed to move the whole club 56 miles from Wimbledon to Buckinghamshire, so nobody can really see there being a problem with trying to move just a few miles along the Essex coast. Market research has proved that there is a real demand for league football on Canvey, and these plans will benefit fans across South Essex.’
We approached both Southend and Castle Point councils for their response to these plans, and a joint statement was received earlier today.
It said: ‘We can confirm that talks are underway regarding the relocation of Southend United to Canvey Island. However, we are unable to comment on football matters, such as the proposed name for the new team and how the teams will be integrated on the field.’
‘From a local government perspective, we can confirm that plans for a third road link to the Essex mainland will be fast-tracked if the move gets permission from both councils. The so-called ‘superclub’ will be responsible for funding a new road bridge from Leigh On Sea to Canvey, and this will be the most logical route for accessing the new stadium.’
A separate memo from Southend Borough Council also pointed out that the future for the Fossett’s Farm development is still clear, even if the club does move to Canvey Island.
It added: ‘In the event that Southend United moves to Canvey Island, the original planning permission for a new stadium will still remain in place. Once any possible move has been finalised, we will then begin the process of seeking a new potential user for the stadium.’
‘We may even build the stadium ourselves and then just hire it out for one-off events, following the same business model as Wembley Stadium. With an expanded capacity, there is a real possibility that FA Cup Semi-Finals and NFL matches will come to Southend in the near future.’
‘Given that Garon’s Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre is so close to the proposed stadium site, it’s almost like Southend will have a ready-made Olympic Park. This is why Southend United leaving Southend could be fantastic news for the borough.’