Plans to build £4.6m FC United stadium on Ronald Johnson playing fields are challenged by his great nephew.
One of the last descendents of Ronald Johnson – the man on whose playing fields FC United plan to build a 5,000-capacity stadium – has contacted town hall chiefs to oppose the plans.
The relative, one of two remaining great nephews, wrote to Manchester council to say he and his family ‘stand opposed’ to the proposals.
The news comes after town hall bosses approved the £4.6m project – which includes plans for a public medical room and other community resources. The Ronald Johnson fields, in Moston, were bequeathed to the people of Manchester.
It is understood at least part of the site was placed under a covenant requesting it be reserved for community recreational use.
Some people who live in the surrounding area have fought a campaign against the stadium. But a public consultation carried out by the council suggested most people who expressed a view were in favour of the plans.
The great-nephew’s letter – seen by the M.E.N. – expresses surprise that the authority has not contacted a member of the family for their thoughts on the planned stadium.
The relative, who lives in Cheshire, writes that the land – on which the Richard Johnson, Clapham and Morris wireworks once stood – was handed over by the family to benefit those who lived nearby.
He adds that those people are ‘in the main firmly against the proposed stadium’ and concludes ‘after careful consideration we also stand opposed’. The relative, who does not want to be named, claims in the letter to be a spokesman for the entire family.
But the M.E.N. has contacted a second great-nephew, who said he felt it ‘inappropriate to support or oppose’ the plans because he lives in Kent.
He added that, now planning permission had been granted, he wished the project well – and hoped the Ronald Johnson name would be retained in some form.
FC United are completing legal formalities before work can start.The club declined to comment on the letter.
But Neil Fairlamb, head of sport for Manchester council, said: “The council is satisfied there is no legal reason why the scheme, which will provide extensive community benefits to Moston and North Manchester, should not go ahead. A descendent living in Cheshire, came forward saying they opposed the scheme.
"We have contacted him and offered to meet to explain the plans. He was offered a number of potential dates but he was unable to make these.”
The club hope to be in their new home for the start of the 2013/14 season.
The memory of fallen soldier Ronald Johnson has been kept alive for 90 years - thanks to the playing fields named in his honour.
Johnson – whose family ran a wireworks near the park – lost his life in the trenches of World War I aged 27.
After a high-flying education he had originally taken up a job at the family firm's Australian outpost.
But when war broke out he returned to the Britain to enlist and was signed up to the Royal Field Artillery 23rd Division.
He said he wanted to fight alongside the men who worked in his family's factory.
After surviving a bullet in the Battle of the Somme he returned to the front line, but was killed in action in May 1917.
He is buried at the Brandhoek military cemetery in Belgium.
His will requested that the fields in Moston be purchased for the factory's workers - and in 1922 they were opened in his name.
Mike Keegan April 02, 2012