Registered On: January 2, 2014
Okay, for what it’s worth, here’s my take on it (as someone not versed on legal or contractual law):
Ground ownership: Doesn’t really bother me. The debt as it stands is now out of the clubs hands and, for now at least, will save a fortune in interest payments. Going forward, the claimed 999-year lease will need careful legal analysis to ensure a fair price for that rent (surely cheaper than maintaining a whole stadium?)
Looking at the Premier League, there are obvious examples of non-ownership of grounds: West Ham, Manchester City and Newcastle in the Premier League. While in the Championship there’s Swansea and Bournemouth (the latter of which pay around £300k per annum in rent a figure way higher than could ever be justified in League 2)
Indeed, Chelsea is a particularly interesting example because although Abramovich owns the stadium the actual pitch is owned by Chelsea Pitch Owners Association (something to do with the original ownership of the allotments on which the stadium was built – indeed it’s so successful as a model it was one of the reasons Chelsea got cold feet over the European Super League was because the pitch owners we’re about to declare their objections).
Do I think Swann’s ownership of all we have is a good thing? Probably not. But it’s the best we have at the moment with such a huge debt (albeit created by the current owners). The sooner a new owner/investor comes in the better.
Solutions: I’m hearing/reading a lot of blow-hard shouting, complaining and words of disapproval, but is anyone offering any alternatives? Here’s an idea, and it is only and idea and one for which I have no genuine knowledge of how it would work, but hear me out:
Okay, here goes: Take a brownfield site near the town centre and have the council build a new community stadium/sports & education hub. Let them hold it as a community asset with a voting veto right given to a club supporters group to prevent any nefarious dealings by (even more) unscrupulous future councils. The net result could (and I really do only mean could) have a good impact on the town centre, bringing in more footfall and business for up to 25 weekends of the season (including cup ties) plus the option for use as a concert venue. My initial thought would be for the area east of Crosby – close enough to town to make a difference (but I’m very much open to any other suggestions).
The club can be future-proofed with the right contract and the above mentioned supporter veto. As a possible extra-bonus, a community-owned asset would take control away from The Swanns. They can they do what they probably wanted all along and sell their underhandedly acquired land and do what they want with it. Indeed, a deal with the council COULD even see part of the costs for a new home met by the sale/lease of further council land around GP.
Anyway, look these are just a few thoughts. Happy to be shot down or backed. Thoughts?