South Somerset District Council has confirmed that “legal and due diligence work” to complete the purchase of Huish Park and surrounding land is underway.
The council has also told the Gloverscast that the owner of the land, Yeovil Town owner and chairman Scott Priestnall, has confirmed that “the land is now ready to proceed to sale.”
Today, the club said that the legal and due diligence work had been underway since November 2020, when the deal was first discussed, and that it was happy for the matter to be public knowledge.
It has £2.8m set aside in its budget to complete the purchase of land and, as we revealed last month, the process is now proceeding and following last week’s local elections, we contacted them for an update and any details of when
They said: “South Somerset District Council’s potential £2.8m purchase of the land at Huish Park in Yeovil was agreed in December 2020 and its inclusion in the 2022/23 budget was confirmed at a public meeting by Full Council earlier this year.
“The conditions precedent set by SSDC continue to be met and the we have had confirmation that owner of the land is now ready to proceed with the sale. Legal and due diligence work is being undertaken. It is not possible to provide a confirmed date when the sale will be completed but we will provide confirmation as soon as it is available.
“The proposal continues to provide Yeovil Town Football Club with the option to buy back the land the club occupies in the future when its financial outlook has improved.”
The Gloverscast has contacted Scott Priestnall today (Monday 9 May) to provide an update and we were informed he was travelling, but confirmed the club was happy for information around the deal to be made public.
In a response, the club said: “We are happy for this information to be public knowledge.
“However, we can confirm that the club’s position on this matter has not changed since November 2020, ‘legal and due diligence work’ has been undertaken by SSDC throughout that period.
“Once Scott is able to do so, Gloverscast will be the first provided with a full update on the matter, once again, we are happy for this to be of public knowledge.”
As a refresh on what the club’s position was in November 2020, you can read the statement issued ahead of the decision by the council.
In summary, it said the sale of its stadium and assets would allow it 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.” In the statement, the chairman added: “I am confident that this is the most prudent deal for the club and it’s longevity.”
In his most recent public comments on the deal, Priestnall said the sale of the stadium and surrounding lands “remains an option for the club“, which feels a step back from a deal well progressed in due diligence and legal process. You can read more about this – here.
What do we know about the deal with SSDC?
- SSDC has budgeted £2.8m to purchase the entire freehold and leasehold property and land interests held by Yeovil Town Football Club in the Huish Park ground. Part of the purchase price would be applied to securing the release of restrictive covenants that affect the title to the property. (This does not include Sport England’s restriction of development on the top training pitches)
- 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. The deal includes a one-year rent break.
- The investment will see the council make a 7% profit through renting it back to the club, which is line with the approved target level of commercial returns on investment property assets purchased by the Council.
- The deal splits Huish Park into ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ land with separate leases for both. Presently the stadium is owned by one business Yeovil Football & Athletic Club Ltd whilst everything that surrounds the stadium is owned by another, Yeovil Town Holdings Limited. Chairman Priestnall and former director Glenn Collis are both still listed as directors of both companies on Companies House, although one assumes that Collis’ resignation last month means he will not be within the fullness of time.
Last Friday, the results of elections for the new unitary authority which will control Somerset from April 1 next year were announced.
Of the District Executive which voted on the acquisition in December 2020, SSDC leader Val Keitch, deputy leader Peter Seib, Jason Baker, Mike Best, Adam Dance, Sarah Dyke, Henry Hobhouse, and Tony Lock were all re-elected to be part of the new authority.