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Statement regarding SSDC's purchase of land and buildings owned by Yeovil Town Football Club (YTFC)

| District
There have been comments on social media which have been critical of South Somerset District Council and the approach it decided to take buying the land and buildings owned by Yeovil Town Football Club (YTFC).
The Council wishes to clarify its position publicly so that there is direct information about its position and intentions, and to end any misinformation which is being spread.
SSDC was approached by the owner of YTFC in the autumn of 2020. SSDC was told that general losses at the club were being compounded by COVID lockdown, and YTFC could run out of money within six months.
Expert council staff designed a structure for a property transaction to support the club and provide reasonable commercial safeguards for the public funds involved and this purchase and leaseback proposal was considered by the council’s District Executive members who voted in favour of the proposal in December 2020.
The Glovers Trust was represented at that public District Executive meeting and made it clear to members that it objected to the purchase and leaseback proposal.
The Trust triggered the moratorium period under Assets of Community Value which put the proposal on hold for about five months. The purpose of that process is to give a time period during which a community group might bid for the asset but an offer to buy the club or property did not come forward. It continued to make it clear that it objected to SSDC’s proposal.
The purchase and leaseback was delayed further at the request of YTFC which had obtained interim Government grant money and were exploring other possibilities. But, in early 2022, it became clear that the Council’s support was still needed. The detailed legal work recommenced and the purchase and leaseback was completed in May 2022. It ensured that the proposal approved by members benefited South Somerset through not only helping ensure financial stability at YTFC but also safeguarding the use of taxpayers' money by an adequate return, and at acceptable commercial risk.
It means that SSDC owns the freehold of all the land and buildings comprising Huish Park and acts as landlord to Yeovil Football and Athletic Club Limited, the commercial entity through which Yeovil Town operates. There are two leases, one of the stadium and immediate land, the other of the outer land area which is used in part for training.
This transaction includes a buy-back option, to allow the company which owns Yeovil Football and Athletic Club Limited, namely Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd, to buy back the freehold.
When the current owner acquired the controlling interest in Yeovil Town Football Club (YTFC), two companies formed its corporate structure; Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd (YTHL) and Yeovil Football and Athletic Club Ltd (YFACL), the commercial entity through which Yeovil Town Football Club operates. YTHL owns YFACL. The detail of the structure created by the purchase and leaseback transaction is that with SSDC buying both freeholds, the two leases back are both with YFACL. Legal advice was that the buy-back structure should be with YTHL as the substantial owning company.
YTHL cannot sell the non-core land for development while the freehold is owned by SSDC. Due to commercial confidentiality, we will not be debating hypothetical situations regarding sales or disposal but a number of safeguards are in place to protect the core land, i.e. the stadium.
SSDC would carefully consider any proposal to buy the freehold outside of the buyback option, but bearing in mind the Council’s reasons for buying the land in the first place, it is highly unlikely SSDC would sell its freehold of the stadium or remaining land unless it judged that was part of supporting the future of the club. This would therefore probably have to be linked with a transfer of ownership of the football club.
But a potential buyer would need to agree terms with the current owner and jointly approach SSDC with their proposition.
The option for the buy-back was to the owner prior to the SSDC purchase and leaseback, but would apply to any successor. SSDC was always clear that it was not going to become involved in the running of the football club via this transaction, and that the owner can manage the club as it considers appropriate.
The original minutes and decision papers can be seen here.

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