Yeovil Town FC explore deal with South Somerset District Council for the stadium and land at Huish Park.
The potential deal will see South Somerset District Council buy Huish Park freehold land including stadium as well as the long leasehold parcel of land to the East of the site. Subsequently, the leasehold land will become freehold and the whole site will be leased back to YTFC, with all charges and restrictive covenants being removed. The club will also have an option to buy back the entire site.
The deal will allow YTFC to raise funds to steer the club out of the current distressed financial position caused by the Covid-19 pandemic whilst retaining control of its assets. Chairman Scott Priestnall said “I am confident that this is the most prudent deal for the club and it’s longevity. To date, we have had numerous bids for our land but we have not yet found an opportunity that gives the club the best possible future. It has been a very difficult year for everyone and businesses across the UK have been affected by the COVID pandemic. In spite of this we have still been developing the infrastructure of our club whilst under severe financial pressures and I thank everyone at SSDC for their involvement so far. As mentioned previously, the club undertook a restructure last year and is now set up effectively to operate at The National League level, whilst still giving us the best possible chance of success on the pitch. Without the Covid-19 pandemic hitting late into last season, the club would have gone into the new season with a realistic breakeven model and a competitive playing budget. As a result of Government restrictions, discussions began with local authorities and the safety advisory group regarding reduced stadium capacity due to social distancing supporters. At the capacity being discussed, our budget would have been short by circa £150k for the season. We then ran a very successful test event, however, prior to the start of our season the Government decided that games would have to be played without supporters.
It was then confirmed by the DCMS that the National League System would be financially supported and as a result The National League CEO Michael Tattersall wrote to all clubs stating that clubs would be compensated for Essential Lost Revenue. So on this basis the 66 clubs in the National League system started the season.
I am grateful to the Government, Camelot and the FA for their support and also the personnel at The National League for working tirelessly and efficiently in getting funds to clubs.
Having said the above, in my capacity as both a National League Board Director and a National League Club Chairman, it is my opinion that many clubs in the National League system have not been compensated for their Essential Lost Revenue.
As a result, like many other clubs in the National League System, with the current distribution model of funds received from Camelot, Yeovil Town FC will be in deficit every month over the course of the season.
In my role as a Director of the National League I have challenged my colleagues on behalf of YTFC and other clubs affected, to change and correct the distribution model and am pleased that the League will be appointing an independent committee to review the model.
We have also now heard that supporters can return to stadiums following the end of the lockdown. This is an important step to returning morale to the nation and atmospheres into sport but unfortunately the financial damage has already been done.
The start of the season accounts for the majority of a sporting clubs commercial revenue, such as stand and stadium sponsorship, shirt sponsorship, annual hospitality packages and the advertising boards around the ground.
The return of supporters allows us to start to gain revenues from match days but we will not expect these levels to be on par with pre-covid times. Ironically, the Government making this decision potentially worsens our financial position.
In order to avoid serious financial distress in the coming months our club has to take action. With this in mind I ask supporters, the local community and local councillors to support the proposal by SSDC to purchase Huish Park and lease it back to the club with an option to buy it back.
A solution that gives the football club and its supporters the future it deserves.
Those reading this may or may not be aware that Yeovil Town Supporters Society Ltd operated as The Glover’s Trust have a right to bid as part of the site being an asset of community value. If a right to bid is registered, this gives them six months to make a formal offer. We only have to consider the offer although we are under no obligation to accept it. Simply put, we cannot wait six months to complete a deal with SSDC given our current financial position. I have spoken to both the Glover’s Trust board and The Supporters Alliance Chairman, Rich Rendell, to explain why this is in the best interests of the club and that it is not just simply a case of selling the stadium and land. If this was the case, we would have put the land up for sale by now and accepted the highest bid. This has not been done because it was not in the best interests of the club. The club deserves the best possible future. As supporters and a community you have made me very welcome as an owner and chairman of this club and I ask you to support this proposal. Should anyone have concerns, rather than register them with the council can I ask you to email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make myself available by setting up various live Q&A sessions to answer those concerns.”