South Somerset District Council confirms that its offer to purchase Huish Park and associated land remains open
South Somerset District Council has confirmed that its offer to purchase and lease back property owned by Yeovil Town Football Club, including Huish Park, remains open.
It comes after the conclusion of a six-month moratorium period allowing for a Community Right to Bid.
Councillors approved the investment in December 2020 as part of a proposal to not only ease financial pressures on the club but also to benefit communities across the district.
This was put on hold for six months as the site is a registered community asset and Yeovil Town Supporters Society Ltd exercised its right to prepare and submit a bid.
John Clark, Portfolio Holder for Commercial Strategy at South Somerset District Council said: “Last year, we agreed to make an investment that would not only benefit a football club with a significant community role but one which would also benefit our residents. The proposal will protect the investment of these funds by generating an acceptable level of return, which will be used to provide services and projects that benefit our wider communities
“Our expert team has applied due diligence on putting together the proposal and has been similarly thorough in assessing whether the delay of six months, and any new information, would impact on our offer. It has also undertaken professional advice on the market value and rental value of the assets it is looking to acquire.
“We do not believe there is a case for us to review the offer that the council has made, and it remains available if the owners wish to take it up. Ultimately, the final decision is with the owners. We firmly believe that the council is taking the best approach possible in the interests of everybody in South Somerset.”
What are the details of what is proposed?
South Somerset District Council has been providing a wide range of support to businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19 including helping to issue millions of pounds in grants. This is with a view to protecting our local economy and jobs.
Yeovil Town Football Club approached South Somerset District Council in 2020 regarding the difficulties it is facing during the pandemic and our commercial team investigated options which benefited both the club and South Somerset residents.
It is the only professional football club in Somerset and it makes a significant contribution to both the local economy and more widely in terms of community, education and local civic pride. This includes the community impact of the club’s charity, the 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 Soccer Schools.
SSDC’s proposal is to purchase the entire freehold and leasehold property and land interests held by Yeovil Town Football Club in the Huish Park ground.
The current 999-year lease from SSDC to YTFC (on land currently owned by SDDC) would be extinguished and a new 30-year lease of the whole property would be simultaneously granted back to the club. Part of the purchase price would be applied to securing the release of restrictive covenants that affect the title to the property.
Crucially, SSDC will not own or be becoming a shareholder of the football club. Instead, Yeovil Town FC would become a tenant of the council in a similar way to the other companies who are commercial tenants of the council, such as B&Q, Marks & Spencer and Go Compare.
The arrangement follows that set for all other commercial tenants of the council and the investment has been assessed using the Council’s normal investment criteria.
Cllr Clark added: “It is not the council’s intention nor desire to play any part in the running of the football club, which is a matter for the shareholders.
“Our interest is to help with the club’s survival while protecting our ratepayers from loss or excessive risk.”
The investment will provide a yield of around 7%, which is line with the approved target level of commercial returns on investment property assets purchased by the Council. The income generated from the investment would be reinvested in services and projects which benefit our communities.