Fulham's Football Club stadium expansion throws sailing clubs' future into doubt
The future of two historic sailing clubs is in doubt if Fulham Football Club’s stadium expansion goes ahead - because the change in tide could turn races into a "frustrating lottery".
Members of Ranelagh and South Bank sailing clubs, both located in Putney Embankment, fear the changes in wind conditions created by the construction will mean they can no longer race.
The football club was granted planning permission last year to redevelop the riverside stand at its Craven Cottage stadium, in Stevenage Road, Fulham.
It includes plans to extend the ground’s capacity to 30,000 while opening the riverside walk from Putney to Hammersmith.
The extended stand will encroach into the river by 11m, causing the strength of the breeze to reduce and make sailing difficult.
When permission was first granted Fulham agreed to pay South Bank to make improvements in order to secure members.
However, when discussions broke down the money was withdrawn, with both clubs fearing they will lose members.
Allan Munro-Faure, commodore of South Bank sailing club, said: “Because we are opposite the football club, we said we don’t want to be a difficult neighbour.
“The money was going to be because we can’t race opposite our club any more. It is quite a big impact not being able to race.”
Nick Price, 71, commodore of Ranelagh, established in the 19th century, said: “Wind from the south west blows across the river towards the stadium slightly against us as we sail into the incoming tide.
“When we sail from Hammersmith towards Putney where the stadium is we have to act against the tide. It is going to make it very difficult to sail.”
An environmental assessment found 42 per cent of races would be impossible and 41 per cent a frustrating lottery, leaving only 17 per cent raceable.
Ranelagh lost 36 per cent of its members when the current riverside stand was built.
The assesment states: “The encroachment and changes to air-flows will force sailors further out into the river and into the path of the oncoming rowers and other boats.
“In low wind speeds and within the area of turbulence, sailors will lose steerage way and be unable to keep clear.”
A spokesman for Fulham Football Club said: “‘The club is keen to work with all local groups as part of the stadium plans and held extensive consultation to this extent."
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