PLYMOUTH City Council have put a halt to plans to paint a huge mural in tribute to the BBC’s former Plymouth Argyle commentator Gordon Sparks on the side of the Life Centre.

‘Sparksy’, as he was known to Argyle followers and BBC listeners, passed away in October 2022, aged 61, after losing his battle with cancer.

Thousands of pounds have been raised via a Crowdfunding campaign to pay for the mural and its future upkeep.

But the council have now said ‘no’, based on “a variety of reasons, including maintenance, construction and practical concerns, as well as the risk of future financial liability for the council”, and say the building is “not suitable for the mural, or a mural of any kind for that matter.”

“These issues came to light when the mural committee started the process of getting formal permission to use the building. By this time, they had already applied and been granted planning permission, the process of which follows a rigid legal framework and does not require the applicant to own the building.”

The plan envisaged a 7.1m by 9.5m mural in breathable acrylic spray paint sited in the centre of the wall, five metres up. The mural would be painted in Argyle’s green, white and black colours and feature the club badge next to an image of Sparksy with some appropriate wording. The letters would be a maximum of 250mm high.

John McNulty, the former Argyle chief executive and project manager for the Gordon Sparks Mural Committee, said he was “gutted” by the decision, and that it had “diluted the passion for the project”.

A statement from the Gordon Sparks Mural Committee said: “The planning and building regulation successfully granted on July 19, 2023, has now been overturned and rejected at the last minute by the current Labour City Council. Although previously stated as a no, the planning application fee has at least now been offered to be refunded.

“The project manager who installed the wall finishes on the Life Centre over 16 years ago provided professional advice on all concerns raised by the council with regard to the application, longevity, product performance and long-term maintainability of the panel. Also supplied and agreed was a way forward using approved breathable paints and the methodology for applying it.”

After rejecting the Life Centre proposal, the council approached Argyle to see if they could help, and a space for the mural was offered by the Pilgrims.

But the committee said: “As this area was a panel under the Lyndhurst Stand, the committee, after visiting, decided that this location did not meet the criteria set out at the start of the campaign, with specific concerns around the accessibility for the general public and BBC followers who were not football supporters.

“It would also not have been available for Argyle supporters who watched games elsewhere in the Home Park stadium.

“Clearly, after over one year of constant involvement with meetings and fund-raising, we are devastated (by the council decision) and now have to take stock to decide on a way forward for this project, but the team are still committed to installing the mural for Gordon Sparks.”

Mr McNulty said the committee had “a duty of care to notify the sponsors and supporters who have fully backed” the mural project.

The council say they are in full support of a mural and still hope a suitable location can be found that will satisfy all parties involved.