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FLEET-TASTIC! Big screen bid for Olympics

PUBLISHED: 12:41 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 23 August 2010

'FESTIVAL ATMOSPHERE':Ebbsfleet chair Duncan Holt.

'FESTIVAL ATMOSPHERE':Ebbsfleet chair Duncan Holt.

FLEET bosses are bidding to cash in on the Olympics in a unique deal which will see thousands watch the London 2012 games at their ground. Stonebridge Road is among three sites being considered in Gravesham to house a big screen, beaming the sporting ext

FLEET bosses are bidding to cash in on the Olympics in a unique deal which will see thousands watch the London 2012 games at their ground.

Stonebridge Road is among three sites being considered in Gravesham to house a big screen, beaming the sporting extravaganza to fans.

Other favoured sites include Fort Gardens, in Gravesend, and the picturesque Camer Park, Meopham, with the Fleet's ground expected to screen the opening ceremony.

Ebbsfleet chairman Duncan Holt revealed the ambitious plan after a one year extension was "agreed in principal" with sponsors Eurostar.

He confirmed a second meeting is planned with Eurostar bosses, owners of Ebbsfleet International Station, next Thursday where he hopes to raise the bold Olympic plan.

Ebbsfleet International Station, just yards from the Stonebrigde Road ground will be the main transport link to London, whisking thousands of spectators to events in London each day.

Mr Holt said: "This is our strategy for the Olympic Games. If we can get the opening ceremony beamed around the ground to thousands of fans it will be spectacular.

"The plan is to have three sites around Gravesham where people can go and get involved, be part of the community and enjoy the great fun the Games will bring.

"Over three weekends fans will be able to go to one of these special sites and cheer on our sporting heroes. It will be a festival atmosphere, rammed to the rafters."

He confirmed club bosses frantically sought a sponsorship meeting before the existing three-year deal was due to end in May.

Expected to last until April 2011, Ebbsfleet bosses are keen to table the Olympic plan and secure a further extension to take them through London 2012.

Mr Holt, who watched his stuttering side lose 6-1 at home to Luton on Saturday, is certain the plan will be a success with the main transport hub for the Games being just yards from the club.

He added: "The timing of the deal in principle is brilliant, and although it is slightly less it is fantastic that we have agreed in principal to extend this and that they are staying with us.

"We want to sit back down and talk about a separate link up taking us through the Olympics.

"If spectators are travelling to London from Ebssfleet International for an event and maybe coming back at midday we want to be able to say 'come in to the ground'. They don't have to miss a thing, make a day of it and enjoy the spirit of the Olympics."

For the last eight months Mr Holt and his team at Ebbsfleet have been working on the contract extension as they juggle poor MyFC renewals and inconsistent league form.

Mt Holt and director Phil Sonsara met Eurostar officials last Thursday to present a community brief on behalf of the club. He conceded there was still some detail to be worked out, altering the contract to focus on more community initiatives before the deal is finalised. It is hoped the Olympic plan will be a big part of winning this and future sponsorship deals.

Mr Holt added: "I honestly believe this is a great deal for the club. Eurostar are committed to supporting this club and community around it and once we have done this I will work to get a longer deal to cover past 2012 and the London Olympic Games."

Asked about the financial impact, he added: "Less than the current deal but hopefully not substantially so."

Eurostar have been the club sponsors since the beginning of the 2007-08 season after the Reporter exclusively revealed a name change from Gravesend and Northfleet FC to cash in on the link up.

The three year deal was reportedly one of the most lucrative in non-league football.

Gravesham Borough Council are keen to see the area is not by-passed when the Olympic Games come to London.

They have created an Olympic Co-ordinator Jane Packham who attended the Fleet's home game against Luton on Saturday.

A spokesperson said: "Gravesham Borough Council has many aspirations for the run up, and during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"Many of these aspirations are in the planning and development stages.

"At this time we can confirm we are have had initial talks with venues regarding the use of 'big screens'

during the Olympic Games, but cannot confirm these events are going to take place as we are very much in the planning and development stage."

Keep up with all the Fleet news every Thursday in the Reporter.

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