Today could prove to be a significant day in the history of Gillingham Football Club.
This evening in Meeting Room Two at Gun Wharf, councillors on the planning committee will decide whether to grant outline permission to grand plans for Chatham Docks. The recommendation from officers is to give it the green light, albeit with a raft of conditions attached.
The blueprint includes flats, shops, hotels, conference facilities and university accommodation.
In essence, it will create a new quarter on the banks of the River Medway, linking up with the burgeoning developments of Victory Pier and Liberty Quays further down Pier Road.
Chairman Paul Scally claims the project would “almost certainly” spell the end of the club’s presence in Medway, as it's the best site for a new stadium.
Plans to move from Priestfield have taken various guises over the last decade or so - including plans for a 20,000 capacity stadium at Temple Marshes in Strood, which was abandoned eight years ago.
Back then Mr Scally also claimed the club would have to move out of the Towns.
The only other alternative to Chatham Docks – land known as Mill Hill, off Yokosuka Way, Gillingham – would be unworkable. This is because it would need a supermarket to finance, and Peel’s plans for the docks include an Asda.
Two so close together wouldn’t work, Mr Scally claims.
He made the claims in a letter to all 55 of the Towns’ councillors in March, and since then we’ve been waiting to see what effect it would have on the progress of the Chatham Docks plans.
Just 19 people wrote to the council raising their concerns about its effect on the club, although Mr Scally disputes that figure.
The report for the proposal comprises the bulk of the agenda for tonight’s meeting, and anyone reading it is left in no doubt of the scale of the development.
It addresses a number of the issues that have been raised by the Gills, and throws up a potential lifeline.
The report states "significant work" has been undertaken to see if a stadium could be built on Chatham Docks, but the idea hasn’t been taken any further because of "viability reasons".
But, two supermarkets could be workable, it argues, given the fact that the Asda wouldn’t cause problems for other proposed supermarkets or sites across the Towns identified as being suitable for supermarkets.
The council can’t turn down the Chatham Docks plan because there’s no development at Mill Hill to consider.
The onus is on the club to force the issue, although there has been plenty of opposition locally to the Mill Hill plan, including from one of the landowners on the 40 acre site.
Critics also make the point that Gillingham can’t sell out their current stadium as it is, so why on earth do they need a new one?
The paltry attendances last season were not that surprising given the club was playing in League Two.
There will always be a hardcore of fans that go no matter what division the club is playing in, but some will be more fair weather. It’s the same at clubs across the country. If there’s discontent among the fans about performances on the pitch, some will stay away.
If the club was playing in the Championship attendances would go up, and you can argue this is almost like a chicken and egg situation. A new stadium could generate investment which would have the knock on effect of improving the club’s finances and therefore the money it has to spend on players.
Mr Scally would point to clubs like Brighton, Hull and Swansea, who have experienced an upturn in fortunes on the back of new stadia.
Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s meeting, there are a few more column inches yet to be written about this saga.
It’s your move Mr Scally.