GRAYS Athletic have confirmed their interest in taking over a planned new community stadium in Aveley.

The stadium at Ship Lane, the home of Thurrock until the club shut their doors in April 2018, is being offered to the local community for use by a company seeking to create a car preparation plant adjacent the ground.

Grays, who have groundshared with Aveley since Parkside opened in 2017 and were also housed at their Isthmian North rivals ex-Mill Field home, are looking into making the short move to Ship Lane.

Chairman Glyn Jarvis said: “In April 2019, the club met the developers and were offered the football land at the site as a gift on behalf of the football community in Thurrock, subject to the developers being granted planning permission for their car prep facility.

“The board were asked to confirm acceptance, which we did within 24 hours.

“Our plan was to develop the stadium as the Grays Athletic Youth Academy for our youth teams and to make the facility available for community use for many other teams and leagues in Thurrock.

“We proposed to lock the community use into a legally binding agreement in order to secure the site in perpetuity for footballers of all abilities, including boys, girls and disability groups.”

Grays were due to have a meeting with the developer’s agent.

But Jarvis admits the conversation did not take place.

Jarvis added: “We were due to meet the developer’s agent to go through the detail of the offer, but they pulled out of the meeting, citing the need to discuss the proposal with Sport England who are a statutory consultee on their planning application.

“We have been seeking a discussion with Sport England to establish the terms under which Grays Athletic Community Football Club - registered as a Community Benefit Society, a non-profit distributing body and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - will be allowed to own, run and manage the facility on behalf of the football community in Thurrock.

“Meanwhile, we are delighted to hear that the Orsett Heath Academy has announced that they have been given the go ahead to open the first phase of their new school in North Grays in September 2020.

“We continue to work with the Trust that runs William Edwards School and the new Orsett Heath Academy to provide a new community football facility to meet the football needs in North Grays and the wider football community.”

Meanwhile, Grays were involved in a 2-2 Isthmian North draw with Dereham Town at Parkside.

Dereham took a 20th minute lead as Toby Hilliard found the back of the net, but Grays hit back through George Purcell.

Rhys Logan restored the visitors’ lead, but Grays snatched a share of the spoils as Joao Carlos netted with three minutes remaining.