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South Somerset District Council has completed the purchase and leaseback transaction for Huish Park and associated land owned by Yeovil Town Football Club.
SSDC’s district board approved the purchase as part of a proposal to not only ease financial pressures on the club, but also benefit communities throughout the district. The capital budget and funding for it, totaling £2.8m, was approved by the SSDC Full Council in February 2022.
The club’s short-term financial concerns were caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which saw spectators initially barred from attending National League games for public safety reasons and then continued to be restricted by COVID-19 restrictions. While the club attempted to reduce its cost base, the remaining costs created significant financial problems.
The proposal gives YTFC the option to buy back the land the club occupies in the future when its financial prospects improve.
Council President Val Keitch said: “This is a significant deal and certainly not a decision that we have taken lightly. However, we firmly believe that it is in the best interests of South Somerset and its communities to do so.
“YTFC is the only professional football club in Somerset and makes a significant contribution both to the local economy and more broadly in terms of community, education and local civic pride.
“This includes the community impact of the club’s charity, Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust, which strives to make a positive difference for all through sport and learning for thousands of local people through its work with local schools and its own football academies.”
John Clark, Economic Development Portfolio Owner, said: “It is important to remember that it is not the intention or desire of the Council to become involved in any way in the governance of the football club, which remains a matter for the shareholders will. It is in our interest to contribute to the club’s survival, to generate new rental income and at the same time to protect our installment payers from loss or excessive risk.
“I want to thank our officials who have worked so diligently to ensure that we protect taxpayers from any risk while successfully working to support Yeovil Town Football Club.”
The club turned to South Somerset District Council about the difficulties they were facing during the pandemic in Autumn 2020. Our officials examined options that would benefit both the club and the residents of South Somerset.
While the proposal was agreed in December 2020, the property’s status of being registered as two assets of community value meant the purchase process was put on hold while legal process was followed. Some interim funds were made available to the club by the government and Sport England, thereby postponing the need for this intervention. This period allowed the club to work on interest from other parties to acquire the club but this did not result in a transaction.
The details of the deal
SSDC has acquired all of Yeovil Town Football Club’s property and land interest on the Huish Park site. At the same time, these areas are leased back to the association. A portion of the purchase price was used to secure the lifting of restrictive covenants affecting ownership of the property.
Crucially, SSDC will not own the football club or become a shareholder in the football club. Instead, Yeovil Town FC has become a tenant of the council.
The completed transaction gives the club the opportunity to enhance its prospects for recovery and the structure of the transaction allows the club to further pursue the potential for developments at the Huish Park site to secure its position over the long term. Expression. In return, SSDC is helping to foster these important ambitions while the Council’s revenue budget stimulates a new net rental income stream.