Scott Priestnall

A proposal to allow National League clubs to field five substitutes from a bench of six has been defeated in a vote at the league’s Annual General Meeting.

According to a report in the Non-League Paper, the motion failed despite voting being 15-9 in favour because all motions require at least 18 clubs supporting it to pass.

No details are given of which clubs voted for and against the change, which former Yeovil Town manager Darren Sarll spoke about on a number of occasions during his time at Huish Park when discussing how to introduce younger players in to his first team squad.

However, Glovers’ chairman Scott Priestnall, a member of the National League board, was in attendance.

The report on the AGM also says there was “little appetite for a hard salary cap, but there is for  a soft salary cap or tighter financial regulations” from clubs despite a vote 12 months ago for the move and setting up a working group.

The report adds: “The working groups will continue to explore the issues.” Watch this space for that, but maybe don’t hold your breath.

Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall, who is a member of the National League board.

The AGM also voted Sonia Kulkarni, a non-executive advisor to the board at National League North champions Gateshead, on to the board replacing Richard Simkin of Stockport County, who were promoted to the EFL.

Gloucester City co-chairman Alex Petheram was also voted on to the board as representative for the National League North whilst Dagenham & Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson, and Richard Parsons, director at National League South side Hampton & Richmond were re-elected.

There is no mention of Priestnall in the report so, through the usual process of elimination due to silence, we assume he remains a member of the league’s board.

The first day of the 2022-23 season was confirmed as Saturday 6th August with the final day on Saturday 29th April. The National League promotion final will be played on Saturday 13th May with the venue to be confirmed.

CV Leisure, the company which chairman Scott Priestnall used to buy Yeovil Town, has confirmed it has paid back the £1.35m it borrowed to complete the deal.

Scott Priestnall speaking to the club’s YouTube channel.

In a filing on Companies House, the company confirmed it has satisfied in full Charge Number 1150 9426 0001, which links to the money Priestnall and then-business partner Errol Pope borrowed from Poole-based lender MSP Capital back in September 2019.

The confirmation of the payment of the loan comes just days after South Somerset District Council (SSDC) confirmed it had bought the club’s Huish Park stadium and land around it in a deal worth £2.8m, and will rent it back to the club.

The timing would suggest that the money generated from the sale of the land has been used to pay back the debt owed by CV Leisure, which were secured against the club’s assets.

On Wednesday, same notification was filed by Yeovil Town Holdings Limited, the company which owned the land around Huish Park before it was bought by SSDC last week, which the debt taken on by Priestnall was secured against.

In the words of Somerset Live when the loan was taken out in 2019, the move by Priestnall to secure the loan he took out against the club’s land assets “effectively acts as a mortgage against the stadium.” At that time, the chairman spoke about the loan as “a facility to help us move forward with the land.

In our latest Gloverscast poll, 204 people (65.8%) voted that Priestnall benefited most from the SSDC deal with a further 54 (17.4%) believing the council would benefit the most. 52 people (16.8%) believed that Yeovil Town FC would benefit the most from it.

Last weekend, SSDC said its deal would “help with the club’s survival, generate a new rental income, while protecting our ratepayers from loss or excessive risk.”

After the deal was announced, Priestnall said in a statement that the money paid by the council would “help pay for costs incurred during the pandemic such as deferred payments with some of our key partners and deferred salaries to our incredible staff and players who accepted a reduction in wages during lockdown when the Club could not operate.”

He added: “In addition to this, the funds will also allow us to engage contractors and consultants to put forward a planning application for the site as well as allowing us to sensibly invest in required maintenance work and our playing squad. Fundamentally, it has also allowed us to negotiate and remove the well-publicised restrictive covenants held over the site since the football club moved to the site.”

However, none of the 852 words in the statement said anything about paying off debts against either the owner or the club. There is no reference to the almost £1m it has borrowed from Sport England.

We are expecting to have Councillor John Clark, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, on this Friday’s podcast to discuss the deal. Given our track record with being able to speak with people about the deal though, we can never completely promise!

This morning Yeovil Town fans woke up in the knowledge that our club is no longer the owner of the ground on which Huish Park stands.

It may well have been the case for a number of days (weeks?) before 2pm on Friday afternoon when South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and the club announced that a £2.8m deal had been completed for the council to buy Huish Park and the land around it and rent it back to the club.

Nearly 32 years after we moved in, we are now tenants in the place we call ‘home’.

So what do we know about the deal? Well, the statement from chairman Scott Priestnall spoke about why the sale was required and what the money would be used for, and SSDC gave its views on the deal.

Their respective messages were consistent – the club lost huge amounts money throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it needs a cash boost and a way to unlock the land at Huish Park for development to safeguard its future.

Having read through it all, there’s a couple of comments on both sides I felt were worthy of further inspection:

Scott Priestnall: “The deal provides valuable funds to the club, in what has been a very difficult period financially and operationally. We utilised all government schemes available to us during the pandemic, but unfortunately those funds did not meet our ongoing cash requirement, never mind allow us to grow.”

There’s absolutely no question the pandemic was a hugely difficult time for all businesses and our football club was no exception. As the chairman rightly says, it furloughed a number of employees to cut its costs to the bare bones, took advantage of grants available to clubs, benefited from more than £50,000 raised by its supporters through a Crowdfunder and has borrowed almost £1m from Sport England. What is an interesting question though is the contradiction between the chairman’s statements from a little under a month ago that the club was in “a pretty healthy” financial position. If that is true, why do we need to sell our only true assets? As one supporter put it, on the face of it it’s a bit like selling your car to pay for the petrol.

Scott Priestnall.

Scott Priestnall: “The funds will help pay for costs incurred during the pandemic such as deferred payments with some of our key partners and deferred salaries to our incredible staff and players who accepted a reduction in wages during lockdown when the club could not operate.”   

If there are individuals or business the club owes money to, it can only be right that this ‘windfall’ enables these debts to be met. No question. However, what of the other debts? We know we owe Sport England £998,538 in monies that, only a couple of weeks ago the Chairman said the Sports Minister was “working to get written off“. So, unless his view on that situation has changed in just under a month, one assumes those debts will not be paid.

So what of the £1.35m the chairman borrowed from Poole-based lender MSP Capital to complete the purchase of the club back in 2019? In the words of Somerset Live back then, the move by Priestnall to secure the loan he took out against the club’s land assets “effectively acts as a mortgage against the stadium.” At that time, he spoke about the loan as “a facility to help us move forward with the land” – a similar reason to given yesterday to justify the sale to the council through the removal of “restrictive convenants” which have prevented land around Huish Park being developed – it all costs money, right?

Scott Priestnall: “When I first came into the Club, I saw the opportunity to grow this already amazing Club into an organisation off the pitch that could provide revenues all week, not just on match days. While I had very positive conversations with local planning, developers and funding partners, the pandemic delayed our options to grow, at the same time causing huge financial difficulties to our ongoing operations.”

There’s no doubt that Scott Priestnall, like his predecessors Norman Hayward and John Fry, see value in unlocking the value of the Huish Park site – and who could argue with the principle of developments which could create a long-term, sustainable income for the club? Certainly not me, it’s worked for clubs up and down the country and the lifting of covenants on the use of the land seemingly frees the club up to do so.

What could development look like? The simple truth is we don’t know and won’t know until the club unveils its “long-term vision for Huish Park” which the chairman says will happen “over the next year“. One insight came from the Glovers’ Trust back in March 2021 when it published a map showing a ‘Concept Plan’ of potential development of the land which showed the entire car park developed for flats and houses, accommodation for players alongside the current 3G pitch, alongside at least one shop, a sports clinic and a hotel.

I welcome the money raised by the sale enabling the club “to sensibly invest in required maintenance work and our playing squad” whilst paying down the debts it has incurred due to the pandemic, but if we are expected to pay an annual rent to SSDC, how is the development of the Huish Park site going to help us do this?

A hotel, shop or sports clinic paying a regular rental to the club or social facilities able to bring a seven-day-a-week income would achieve this. But simply building and selling property – whether houses, flats, shops, hotels or alike – is a short-term strategy which does not answer the question of – who pays the rent?


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Councillor John Clark

“It is important to remember that it is not the council’s intention nor desire to play any part in the running of the football club, which will remain a matter for the shareholders. Our interest is to help with the club’s survival, generate a new rental income, while protecting our ratepayers from loss or excessive risk.”

Not the chairman’s words this time, but those of SSDC’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, John Clark, the councillor for Yeovil Summerlands.

A number of councils have pots of cash waiting to invest in schemes they will be profitable for them and, as organisations not seeking to make a quick profit, can invest for the long term. When its District Executive signed off the £2.8m investment in December 2020, the council confirmed it would “provide a yield of around 7%” which was “line with the approved target level of commercial returns.Speaking at the meeting which decided the deal, then-Chief Executive Alex Parmley said: “We’re not spending money on a football club or giving them taxpayers’ money – we’re investing in the land. We’ll have a significant land asset with a value at the end of it.” To put it simply, this deal is good business for SSDC.

In his statement, Scott Priestnall spoke about how there would be “those that put a negative spin” on the deal. He – and maybe you – may think this blog is an attempt to do that. I would argue there is no more “spin” in his blog than in the club and council’s own statements. Questions are healthy in any democracy – the chairman himself said just under a month ago that he had “no problem with criticism” and therefore I am sure will have no issue with my questions. They are asked out of a desire to see the club thrive, that’s all any fan wants, right?

Gerry Lock, right, with manager Brian Hall as they collect the Isthmian League winners’ trophy in April 1988.
Picture courtesy of Tim Lancaster.

When I was first becoming a Yeovil Town supporter, the club made its move from Huish to Huish Park, under the stewardship of then-chairman Gerry Lock. It was a move which almost sent the club under due to long-running planning enquiries, the rising cost of land – many other things which have been the subject of podcasts, if you are interested- listen here. Lock’s vision was to create a stadium and facility which was the envy of clubs all over the country – and he did, but almost at a huge cost.

Is this decision Scott Priestnall’s ‘Gerry Lock Moment’?

In “the next year” we have been promised sight of the long-term vision for Huish Park and, if this ultimately benefits the football club, you’ll hear no complaints from me. Like so many things, we’ll just have to wait and see.

South Somerset District Council has confirmed it has completed its £2.8m purchase of Huish Park and land around it with Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the authority said that the deal, understood to be worth £2.8m, was done and it would now rent the stadium and “core land” around it back to the club under a 30-year lease.

Priestnall said the deal had released restrictive covenants enabling it to deliver “a viable plan to grow our infrastructure off the pitch” including putting together plans to develop the land around Huish Park, carry out maintenance work and invest in the playing squad.

Chairman Scott Priestnall speaking ahead of the 2-1 home win over Stockport County.

He also revealed that he expects to follow through on his promise to announce new appointments to the club’s board in “the next couple of weeks.”

In its statement, SSDC said the deal would “help with the club’s survival, generate a new rental income, while protecting our ratepayers from loss or excessive risk.”

Scott Priestnall said: “When I first came into the club, I saw the opportunity to grow this already amazing club into an organisation off the pitch that could provide revenues all week, not just on match days. While I had very positive conversations with local planning (authorities), developers and funding partners, the pandemic delayed our options to grow, at the same time causing huge financial difficulties to our ongoing operations.

There is and has always been a massive opportunity to develop the club’s infrastructure, but over the last 30 years the custodians of this club have never been able to put a plan together that works for all related parties.”

The council deal would see the ‘core’ (red) and non-core (blue) land bought by SSDC.

There is no value for the deal in either the council or the club’s statement, however, £2.8m was set aside in the council’s budget to acquire both the core and non-core land around Huish Park, see map, left, for an explanation of what that means.

The chairman added that it would use the funds to pay off unpaid debts, including deferred salaries to staff.

He said: “I believe we are now in a position to not only sustain this Club financially but also move forward with a viable plan to grow our infrastructure off the pitch, to help with gaining future success on the pitch.

The funds will help pay for costs incurred during the pandemic such as deferred payments with some of our key partners and deferred salaries to our incredible staff and players who accepted a reduction in wages during lockdown when the Club could not operate.

In addition to this, the funds will also allow us to engage contractors and consultants to put forward a planning application for the site as well as allowing us to sensibly invest in required maintenance work and our playing squad. Fundamentally, it has also allowed us to negotiate and remove the well-publicised restrictive covenants held over the site since the football club moved to the site.

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved at SSDC over the last 18 months. Especially for their understanding and patience over the last year while the Club explored all other possibilities for investment, including the potential takeover that has dominated the Club for the past nine months.”


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Looking to the future, the chairman said he expected appointments to the board – which he trailed in The Priestnall Tapes, a series of recorded statements made to a group if supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge a couple of weeks ago – to arrive soon along with new manager Chris Hargreaves’ backroom staff.

Former chief executive Martyn Starnes, who left the club in 2013, is now a permanent fixture at Huish Park and seems certain to be part of a new set up with the possibility of a supporter representative being appointed to the board.

Priestnall added: “I am pleased to say that I will be announcing appointments over the next week. The new board will have a combination of specialist football operations, a voice for supporters and a wealth of experience in business, that will come together and help shape the future of Yeovil Town.

Our new first team manager, Chris Hargreaves, has also been announced and is in discussion with members of our existing squad, as well as potential targets, while his backroom staff will be announced over the coming weeks.

I do appreciate that it has been a frustrating time for supporters this season with so much uncertainty. I acknowledge that mistakes have been made.

My aim for the upcoming season is that as supporters you have clarity on our plans. That starts with the manager, then with player signings and his backroom staff. Then over the next year you see progress and see sight of our long term vision for Huish Park.

It has been a difficult time for everyone involved in the club, there is no doubt about that, and there will be those that will put a negative spin on this deal, but it’s an exciting development and gives the club a clear route for growth for the first time in its life at Huish Park. Providing future additional revenues that will give us competitive advantages down the line.

Councillor Val Keitch, leader of South Somerset District Council.

It’s important that we come together and work together to ensure a successful future for YTFC, and with the new board, continue to provide clarity on the club’s’operations.”

Councillor Val Keitch, the leader of South Somerset District Council and Yeovil Town season ticket holder, said the deal was “in the best interests of South Somerset and its communities.

She added: “Yeovil Town 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.

John Clark, the council’s Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, added: “It is important to remember that it is not the council’s intention nor desire to play any part in the running of the football club, which will remain a matter for the shareholders. Our interest is to help with the club’s survival, generate a new rental income, while protecting our ratepayers from loss or excessive risk.

SSDC is due to be scrapped from next year when it is swallowed up in to a new unitary authority which covers the full county

Chris Hargreaves has said he is confident he understands the off-the-field situation at Yeovil Town as he takes over as the club’s new first-team manager.

The former Bristol Rovers’ academy boss was confirmed in post on Wednesday and said he had spoken with club chairman Scott Priestnall about his ambition to appoint a new board of directors.

Chris Hargreaves, working for BT Sport at Huish Park this season.
📸 Aaron McLean

Almost a month ago, the owner said he had been speaking with “prominent local business people” about them joining the Huish Park board – but the new boss said his focus would be on the pitch.

Speaking to the media for the first time in his new role, he told the Gloverscast: “My focus is the squad, the team and players, that is what I can impact.

The discussions I have had with Scott about him trying to form a new board and is in the process of doing that, but that is for him to do that, my job is the football. That is my sole focus.

Asked if he was confident he understood the off-the-field situation to allow that focus, he added: “Absolutely.”

It was April 23 when Priestnall address a group of supporters ahead of the 2-1 home win over (now league champions) Stockport County, and told them of his plans to get a new board in place before the end of the season. The National League season finished last weekend.

Speaking then, the chairman said: ““I am pleased to say there has been some positive conversations on that part and I’m hoping to have a concrete framework around the board by the end of the season, so we are not in limbo during the summer. I do appreciate there has been a lot of limbo during the last few months.”

You can read more of his comments in our article – here.

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 council deal would see the ‘core’ (red) and non-core (blue) land bought by SSDC.

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.

The Glovers’ Trust has called for supporters to protest against the ownership of Scott Priestnall ahead of the final home match of the season against Boreham Wood this weekend.

The call follows the Trust’s regular Pulse Survey which showed that 90% of respondents supported further protests following action taken during and after the recent match with Stockport County, where the chairman was present.

In a statement issued on Friday, the board has encouraged supporters to take the following action:

  • During the Game: Support the team in our last home game of the season. Make your voices heard.
  • After the Game: Remain in the stadium and protest as long as we are allowed, and then move to the main entrance

The statement added: “We know that many fans are frustrated. But, we must maintain our integrity and keep our protests peaceful.

“Whether you are a member of the Trust or not, this is our last home league game of the season, and the last opportunity for us to make our feelings known as a collective.

“Whether the chairman is in attendance or not, let’s make our voices heard.”

Two weeks ago, Priestnall made an address to a group of supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge ahead of the Stockport game – see here.

Since then there has been no further updates to supporters around the potential sale of Huish Park to South Somerset District Council or the club’s vacant managerial position.

The Gloverscast had agreed to interview the chairman on our podcasts last Friday (29 April) and today (May 6) with statements from the club telling fans the chairman would be speaking with us.

Both interviews have been cancelled by the chairman.

Plans to improve the matchday experience at Huish Park are “in the pipeline“, according to Yeovil Town commercial manager Mark Robinson.

Speaking alongside chairman Scott Priestnall in an address to a group of fans last weekend, he asked supporters to continue to support the club as it seeks to rebuild in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chairman also stated that he was still in control at the club insisting he spoke with with stadium manager James Hillier five or six times a day” despite not attending matches.

On the subject of matchday experience, Robinson said: “Working with the Supporters’ Alliance to improve the matchday experience is key for us, I know we haven’t got it perfect but we are a non-League club and we are providing much better than a lot of other non-League clubs.

It is good the corporate floor (on the first floor at Huish Park) is dramatically improved, we are having lots of happy experiences up here and the fans out on the terraces deserve that experience as well.

We have a lot of things in the pipeline coming, but it’s not done overnight and, like any other business, we have just come out of one of the toughest times anyone has experienced, so we ask for your patience and persevere with us.

“We are invested and have a passion and a dream for what Yeovil Town Football Club should look like, we know fans and businesses have an expectation and they deserve to have that expectation met.

“We are the premier venue and sporting place in Somerset and we want to be back there in the Football League, but we can’t do that on our own. We are working hard, so please support us and stick with us because it is going to be an exciting time.

Scott Priestnall speaking to the club’s YouTube channel in July 2022.

Speaking back in July, Priestnall said he expected Huish Park to offer a “more inviting and entertaining” matchday experience. You can listen to this on the club’s official YouTube channel – here – the section, quoted below, begins at 13 minutes and 8 seconds in.

The chairman said: “With new bars and different areas people can go to, de-boarding the boardroom and trying to make it more fan-orientated and making it an exciting place to come.

“That has to be done off the pitch as well as on it because we want people to enjoy their experience again.

“A lot of changes are coming in bit by bit, but as we see the season start you will see a very different Huish Park, more inviting and more entertaining.”

Returning to last weekend’s address, Priestnall said he had spoken with the “potential partners” he is looking to bring on to the club’s board about the day-to-day running of the club. He described Hillier as “my right-hand man” and pointed to Robinson for running the club’s commercial operations.

He said: “James and I speak five or six times a day, I may not be here on a day to day basis but I was never going to be that type of chairman.

“That is one of the discussions I have had with potential partners, should a chairman do that? Or are we comfortable with the set up we have. The way the staff have come back in to the office, they have done a brilliant job.

“My main focus was coming through the pandemic, having a good season this season. It’s been a horrible season with the rumours of takeovers, the performances have not been good enough at times but we have had a young and exciting squad, it’s not been fun.

“I appreciate supporters want to feel more connected with their club, whether that is with me at the top or somebody else, or a complete new owner, all that will be ironed out over the next few weeks.

“Be under no illusion, I am still committed to the club and I have been this whole year, regardless of what some might say. We have made sure everyone has been paid and had a competitive playing squad.

“We have to make changes, I have to make changes and what I am doing is not sitting and waiting. The only thing I can commit to is that there will be a new board in place in some guise and I will be able to tell you what that looks like over the next few weeks.

Yeovil Town chairman and owner Scott Priestnall has said the club had been “put up for sale without my knowledge” whilst talking about his relationship with supporters’ groups.

In the fifth (and final?) video update from an address he gave in the Alec Stock Lounge at Huish Park ahead of Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Stockport County, he spoke about his absence from meetings held by club’s Supporters’ Alliance.

Chairman Scott Priestnall speaking ahead of the 2-1 home win over Stockport County.

The Alliance, also known as the Achieve by Unity Supporters Consortium, is made up of the Green & Whites Supporters Club, Disabled Supporters Association (DSA), Glovers Trust, Cary Glovers, Junior Glovers, Yeovil Town Community Sports Trust and the Bridport Glovers.

Priestnall said he had attended meetings following his takeover of the club from Norman Hayward and John Fry, the latter who established the Alliance in 2016 and attended meetings.

But, it appears the decision of the the Glovers’ Trust to activate its Asset of Community Value – see more here if you’ve forgotten what that is – and backing an offer from the Simul Sports consortium led to him not longer attending.

The chairman said: “I wanted to be in touch with supporters’ groups, I wanted them to be aware of things that were happening and I quite liked the people on the board.

“When it got to the club being put up for sale without my knowledge, that was the first issue I had, and then the second issue was one of that group was supporting a bid without knowing if they had any money and I had a real problem with that.

“When Alliance meetings are being misled, I felt like I was having to correct everything that happened in the meeting.

“I had a conversation with Rich (Rendell, chairman of the Alliance) but let’s send by next two (in command), Mark (Robinson, Commercial Manager) or James (Hillier, Stadium Manager) to attend meetings. That is where it’s been.

Asked whether he would like to attend Alliance meetings again, the owner said he felt that it needed to come up with “some objectives” to enable him to engage.

He added: “I have spoken to Rich about trying to bring the Alliance together as one supporters’ group. It’s very unusual to have so many supporters’ groups coming in to one meeting and all having different views.

“It’s very difficult to speak to so many different groups at any one time, when they have so many different aims and objectives and I find that difficult.

“It would be great if the Alliance could be more inclusive for me or try and set out some objectives about how it wants to be communicated with by the football club rather than being sat in a meeting.

You can read more about the Supporters’ Alliance on the club’s official website – here.

Yeovil Town owner Scott Priestnall has said he will hopes that Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone will cancel the almost £1m of loans the club has taken out from Sport England.

The club presently owes £998,538 after taking a series of loans from a fund created to support non-League clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic when the chairman said the club “lost £1.25m in revenue overnight.

Initially the National League, of which Priestnall is a board member, told clubs the money was in the form of grants which did not need to be paid back, but the Government’s Department of Culture, Media & Sport disagreed.

Owner Scott Priestnall, flanked by Commercial Manager Mark Robinson, right, and matchday announcer Ian Welch, left, speaks to fans in the Alec Stock Lounge at Huish Park.
Picture: @YTFC Twitter

In the fourth (or is it fifth?!) instalment of video updates from an address the chairman made to supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge ahead of Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Stockport, he said: “We have taken Government funds, I have been criticised for that, I have no shame in that, nearly all National League clubs have taken grants and loans from the Government and I sit here and go – show me a different way. Quite frankly there was not another way.

We’ve taken not as much as some other clubs and only what we needed and we have been promised as a league by the Sports Minister that over the next four years, he is working towards getting those loans written off.

So, in hindsight, we could have done what other clubs did and took a much as we could and used it for playing squads, but I didn’t want to do that in case we get to the point where we do get to the point where we have to start paying it back over the next 20 years. Money still had to be put in to fund last season.

Other clubs in the National League have also taken significant sums of money from Sport England with promotion-chasing Chesterfield taking £1m in loans last March, whereas others including now-relegated Dover Athletic decided not to fulfil their fixtures.

Speaking about the future plans, the chairman returned to his point about trying to secure further investment with “local business people” reportedly being lined up to join the club’s board – see more here.

He said he understood fans’ frustration him “for not being more transparent, for not talking about takeover rumours” but said he believed a takeover of the club would have been finalised by Christmas.

In Saturday’s address to fans, the chairman said that no group seeking to complete a takeover had every “put money on the table.”

He said: “Putting my cards on the table I thought there would be a new owner in place by Christmas.

“That’s not been the case, so when you look at our accounts, we have lost money again and that has had to be found and put in to the club and that will be an ongoing situation.

“The balance I need to find over the next few weeks and months with other partners to see where we are going to be in terms of a playing budget. I know now that our playing budget is going to be similar to what it has been this season.

“I would like it to be more, but that will need further investment or a way of generating revenue by increasing attendances. No-one wants to put prices up.

“I am not going to sit here and say that our long-term vision is to have a new ground with a hotel in it, our goal is short-term to stabilise a new board, so it’s not just one voice, it’s a collective approach, bringing investment to the club.

“Between us we will work on what that plan looks like; we could have that plan in a month, it could be two months, but I would like to think this summer we do have a long-term vision in place.”

Yeovil Town owner Scott Priestnall has said the the club’s financial position is “pretty healthy” and he is looking at bringing new investors in to the club.

In the third video update from an address the chairman gave a group of supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge at Huish Park on Friday – see in full here – he dismissed speculation the club could go out of business.

He said: “As well as people taking to task and criticising me, which you are entitled too because I am the decision maker, but I think you have to bring other people to task when they make statements.

How are they backing it up? I had the accounts sent to me saying we have lost money again and blah, blah, blah.

Yes, my goal is to get the club in to a sustainable position, it’s not going to happen overnight and it’s been losing money, but if you look at our accounts they are pretty healthy.”

Owner Scott Priestnall, flanked by Commercial Manager Mark Robinson, right, and matchday announcer Ian Welch, left, speaks to fans in the Alec Stock Lounge at Huish Park.
Picture: @YTFC Twitter

The most recent accounts for Yeovil Football & Athletic Club covering the 12 months to June 30, 2021, showed that during the 12 months to June 30, 2021, the club lost just under £400,000 which takes the overall losses of £2.22m.

In the nine months which have passed since the end of last June, we know the club has taken on an additional £309,000 of loans from Sport England, bringing the total it owes that lender up to £998,538 – see more here.

In an attempt to provide an impartial view on the balance sheets, the Gloverscast spoke with football finance expert Kieran Maguire earlier this month and he said its future is secure – if the owner has a long-term interest.

He pointed out that a large part of the club’s debt is to its parent company Yeovil Town Holdings, which Priestnall also owns, and therefore if it did not call in its debts, the future was secure. You can read more about our chat with Kieran – here , or listen to him – here.

Over the weekend, the club announced the chairman was looking to “assemble a new board” with “local business people” among those interested which he reiterated in this latest video update.

He said: “I have had a number of conversations with people to join the board, from an investment point of view, to invest in the football club going forward.

“Both from a sponsorship point of view and to make funds available for the playing budget.

“I am pleased to say there has been some positive conversations on that part and I’m hoping to have a concrete framework around the board by the end of the season, so we are not in limbo during the summer. I do appreciate there has been a lot of limbo during the next few months.

“How that looks is still under discussion. Whether that means I am chairman next season has been a discussion point, how the board is formulated and how many people has been another discussion, and that is a wider discussion depending on whether they are putting money in.

“From my point of view, I am trying to relinquish control and bring others in, so it is not just one person accountable, there are others that share a common goal to work on getting this club out of this league.

“That is the main focus because there is no money in this league from a commercial point of view. I sit on the National League board and revenues are improving, but it’s a million pound per club difference in League Two.

“That just shows the difference and, in terms of playing squad budget, there’s not that much difference.”

One assumes that the discussions with these potential new directors must be at an advanced stage to enable the required fit and proper person checks to be undertaken by the National League to confirm their appointments.

However, it sounds like we will be an update on this at some point in the near future.

Contract extension offers have been made to members of the Yeovil Town squad to keep them at the club beyond the end of this season.

In the latest instalment of an update by Scott Priestnall from the Alec Stock Lounge on Saturday (unless you were lucky enough to be there), the chairman spoke about the situation with players’ contracts. Watch the update in full – here.

He said that “people forget we have players in the squad that we have options in their contracts” to extend for next season; a fact which has never been communicated by the club – but nevertheless it is reassuring to know Morgan Williams won’t have to fill all 11 positions come August.

Morgan Williams. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Priestnall added: “Over the last two weeks I have met with certain players discuss the manager’s position and their position and how they feel it has gone this season and how development of the younger players has been.

“I have made contract extension (offers) to a lot of the squad that we are looking to retain and those negotiations I would expect to go on until the end of the season.

“It is not unusual to wait until the end of the season, players rarely commit before the end of the season anyway unless they are really settled, like we did with (Luke Wilkinson) when he and Lee (Collins) both signed extensions to carry on. When you have a settled way of playing, it is very important to get that commitment.”

Having added that he has “no problem with criticism“, the owner added that he felt there was improvement needed in the playing squad with a second mid-table finish on the cards in the National League.

He said: “It is my decision when it comes to player and managers, I decided with having a squad that has been exciting at times this season, we have had many plus points but it’s still not competed for promotion.

“It was also for me to see what players were potentially available and compare that to what we have got.

“I have made contract offers to a lot of players over the last couple of weeks and now I can only update when we start to announce them, but a lot of that depends on who the manager is.

“That has been a lot of conversation about who the manager is going to be and I have even asked a few of them for their advice in terms of recommendations and those who have applied.

Priestnall denied rumours that the club was going part-time next season, insisting the offers he had made to players were for full-time contracts.

He is targeting a team capable of challenging for promotion in the National League next season, but added that we will not be able to draw on the financial riches of the likes of Wrexham, Stockport County or Chesterfield.

The chairman added: “There’s been a lot of money spent in this league and no team can compete with that and has an owner that has a lot more money than I do.

Joe Quigley, still our top-scorer with seven goals for Yeovil this season.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz,

“What this league has proven is it’s not always about money, it’s about having a way that works in this league. Halifax are doing unbelievably and spend substantially less than a lot of other teams and still compete.

“We have beaten big teams but we have let ourselves down against teams we should have beaten.

“That is where I have to make improvements in the squad. We haven’t had one or two that will put the ball in the back of the net and that’s been apparent all season.

“Joe (Quigley) had a good start to the season, got injured and we then sold him to Chesterfield for a lot of money and he has struggled there.

“You just don’t know at this level, but I want to keep what has been good about this year – the youth and athleticism has been great, but we’ve still missed experience and goals.”

A new Yeovil Town manager will be appointed before the end of the season with “40 or 50 applications” received for the vacant role, according to chairman Scott Priestnall.

The owner added that he would be talking to caretaker manager Charlie Lee about the job and added that applications had been received from “some big profile names” including those with Football League experience.

Chairman Scott Priestnall speaking ahead of the 2-1 home win over Stockport County. Picture: @YTFC Twitter.

Speaking to a group of supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge ahead of the weekend’s 2-1 home win over Stockport County, Priestnall said: “We’ve had 40 or 50 applications for the manager’s job, we’ve had some big profile names, names that have been in the top division, managers who have worked in the EFL in the last two years have applied, managers from this league and managers who have been out of work for the last few years, as you would expect.

“I have been open with Charlie (Lee)  that I have spoken to some (of the applicants), I have not formally sat down with any at this stage but I intend to do that over the next couple of weeks, including Charlie.

“I will make a decision before the end of the season, maybe sooner.”

In a statement issued on Sunday – see more here – the chairman said he had “scheduled interviews” with a shortlist of managerial candidates.

The news came in a video filmed at the address on Saturday which we assume is the first of a number which will come out with some other parts of the talk available to read about – here.

Priestnall also revealed that he released former boss Darren Sarll from his contract after he was approached by National League rivals Woking citing the club’s mid-table finish last season and (predicted) similar finish this season.

He described the decision as “mutual” between chairman and manager adding that “Darren and I are friends, as well as employer and employee.

Darren Sarll. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

Priestnall said: “Darren had an enquiry from another club earlier in the season and approached me to ask if I was going to give him another contract and I told him we would address it at the end of the season.

To which he said: ‘Would it be okay to look at what other options were out there?’ and I said ‘Yes’.

When Woking came calling, I released Darren from his contract, not because I think he is a not a good manager, but I think three years in the performance over the last two seasons I thought a change in my position as chairman or owner and a change in the manager’s position as well (was necessary).

That is why I wanted to review it at the end of the season and that is why Darren went off to Woking.

He added: “I think Darren has done a good job. I was on the fence as to whether we continued with Darren or went in a different direction.

I have been very open and honest with Darren about where we have been with regards rumours of takeovers and what that meant for his position and his staff’s positions.

Asked about the takeover situation on January 21, Sarll said he knew “less than anyone” about the future of the club’s ownership.

The chairman added that he was approached by Sarll and his representatives on New Year’s Day, when Yeovil lost 2-1 at home to Torquay United, asking for a contract extension. At that point, the Glovers were tenth in the National League table, five points of the play-off places.

He said that “because of ongoing rumours” around a takeover of the club, he was unable to offer a new contract.

Priestnall added: “Darren, like he always does every year, or like he has done this year and as we had last year, went on a bad run and won one (game) in 16 and my inbox was full of people asking me to fire Darren or telling me to fire Darren.

“I would not have fired a manager during the season if I thought we had something to play for and I still believed that we had an outside chance of making the play-offs (at that point) and I wanted to see things through with Darren.”

On January 21, the club sold top-scorer Joe Quigley to promotion-chasing Chesterfield with the chairman saying the sale would “help improve cash resources” due to falling gates.

A shortlist of candidates to be the next Yeovil Town manager are scheduled to be interviewed, owner Scott Priestnall has said.

He has also confirmed that he has spoken with the club’s players about their futures, and said his plans to put a new board of directors would “not necessarily” see him remain as chairman.

A statement – see in full here – issued on Sunday afternoon follows protests during and following the 2-1 home win over National League leaders Stockport County with the chairman adding it was “completely untrue” that he had dismissed supporters’ concerns.

Scott Priestnall.

On Saturday evening, videos on social media showed the chairman waving at fans who were chanting against him inside the ground after the match.

In the statement, Priestnall said: “It is being reported that I am dismissing supporter unrest and not prepared to discuss the club’s current position and future. This is completely untrue.
 
My public silence and lack of attendances at games over the last few months has been to respect the process of a proposed takeover, a takeover that has been made very public by the Glovers Trust.  I have given the process nine months to allow parties to get themselves in a position to complete, without success.”

The statement added: “While I understand the frustrations of those unhappy at yesterday’s game, there is a lot of misinformation on social media. I hope supporters can understand that I am not always in a position to refute online claims.

Historically I have found my attempt to correct those claims has often led to further negativity and not as productive as I would have liked, which is my prime reason for silence.”

Ahead of yesterday’s game, the chairman spoke to a group of supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge in an address which was videoed and will be released “in the next few days“, according to the chairman. Some elements of the address can be read – here – however, we have been told a further three questions were put to and answered by the chairman.

Of the address, Priestnall said: “I discussed how I am putting a new board together, a board where I would not necessarily be Chairman going into next season. That the ownership structure of the club would change to create a more collective and shared thinking approach. Those discussions have included key supporters of the club and prominent business people who want to be involved in delivering a long term plan for YTFC.

I also confirmed to supporters that I have been communicating with players and their representatives regarding player contract extensions. I have also scheduled interviews with our shortlist for the first team manager position, as it is crucial to have the right person in place going into the close season to fully maximise our player recruitment.

In recent weeks, a number of the club’s players have spoken publicly about the uncertainty around the off-the-field situation at Huish Park, with the owner not having been seen at a match since January before his appearance this weekend.

Midfielder Josh Staunton called for clarity over the future of the club’s players which is understood to leave only defender Morgan Williams contracted to the club beyond the end of the current season.

In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio Somerset ahead of the Stockport game, defender Mark Little also spoke out about the soap opera surrounding the club.

Mark Little. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

He said: “For us trying to put performances on the pitch is like a battle, then there’s things going on and around that makes it difficult to perform.

“For some players it doesn’t matter, but for other players have lost their mentor, they don’t know if they’re here next year, with a team game whether one or 11 players are affected, it would be easier if everyone knew what was going on and the club could move forward.

“No-one here says that’s not what we want. It would be much better if there was no Coronation Street and Emmerdale situation.

Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall spoke to an audience of supporters ahead of the 2-1 win over Stockport County at Huish Park today.

The owner was asked three questions by stadium matchday announcer Ian Welch in front of an audience of around 100 supporters in the Alec Stock Lounge.

The headlines of his talk were:

  • He accepted an offer to takeover the club from Simul Sports, but said the consortium “never put money on the table.
  • The deal to sell Huish Park and surrounding land to South Somerset District Council “remains an option.
  • A new manager, players and a board of directors will be appointed by Priestnall before he releases details of season tickets.

Following his appearance in front of supporters, the chairman was in the crowd for the match, his first since the FA Cup third round tie with AFC Bournemouth which was televised on BBC in January, and chants against him were clearly heard with a number of ‘Priestnall Out’ banners on display.

Following the game, a number of supporters gathered outside Huish Park to continue their protest against the owner.



SSDC Deal

Asked about a possible deal with South Somerset District Council to sell Huish Park and surrounding land, Priestnall told the audience:

There’s no real closed shop, it’s very simple that because of what the council are going through, I am not allowed to give you (any further details).

Owner Scott Priestnall, flanked by Commercial Manager Mark Robinson, right, and matchday announcer Ian Welch, left, speaks to fans in the Alec Stock Lounge at Huish Park.
Picture: @YTFC Twitter

“Obviously I did public consultation on that 18 months ago, it remains an option for the club. It is on public record, the council has put the money in to their budget this year, so it remains an option and that is kind of it really.”

On the rule, known as ‘purdah’, the Local Government Association says: “Essentially councils should ‘not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.

It is important to note, these restrictions are governed by Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986, as amended by 1988, but importantly they relate to councils – not football club owners.

The reason for the rule of purdah is to avoid any “publicity which seeks to influence voters” and with SSDC hosting elections on May 5, their councillors are officials are restricted from talking.



Takeover talks

The owner said he had accepted a bid to buy the club from Simul Sports, a consortium fronted by former Cardiff City commercial director Julian Jenkins, nine months ago.

But, he insisted that consortium “never put any money on the table” to finalise the deal and that nobody else has stumped up any cash to seal the deal.

Priestnall said: “A deal was brought to me about nine months ago, facilitated through the Glovers’ Trust, it was made to me and I accepted.

I discussed with the Supporters’ Alliance that an approach had been made and the supporters groups were looking for some sort of change and I think I have been on record enough times saying if there was a better option for the football club or something which was in the best interests of the football club, I would look at it and that is what I did.

I did not negotiate a deal, I did not hold out, they never put any money on the table and that is the truth. So there has never been a deal in place to sign, it’s just been ongoing discussions and that goes for any takeover (offer) you have heard about. Nobody has put any money on the table to buy the football club.

It’s been difficult to not come out and talk about it, but I never put the club up for sale. I know that is a cheap thing to say when you accept an offer for the football club which I openly did, but I never wanted to sell the football club.”

As well as Simul, it is believed there have been other bidders for the club with former director Glenn Collis, who resigned from his position on Friday night, understood to have been in talks with Priestnall.

Glenn Collis YTFC Director
Glenn Collis

His departure came at the same time the club said the chairman was “assembling a new board of directors” which he confirmed on Saturday that he was doing:

We have no offer on the table, there is no deal in place, there is no white knight coming in to take this club forward and as a custodian of the club it is my duty to take it forward and put the right team together to take it forward.

That is from the ground upwards from the manager and coaching staff through to a board. There will be a new board in place in some guise, I can’t tell you when that will be at the moment, but I certainly will over the next few weeks.”



The future on and off the pitch

The chairman was asked about why no details had been released regarding season tickets for next season, he replied they would be forthcoming when the on and off the pitch situation was finalised:

We have to show you the commitment for you to buy season tickets. We will put a new manager in place and show commitment signing players and then we will put a deal together for season tickets.

I intend to show you where this club is going to go in terms of existing players renewing contracts, a new manager you can get behind and a new board.”

Anyone want to guess how long that will be?!

He also spoke about his disappointment at the club preparing for a second mid-table finish in as many seasons, adding:

I was extremely disappointed with the league position last season and I went in to it with a completely new strategy with Darren (Sarll) trying to recruit younger players.

We have had a very experienced squad with not much legs and we’ve never really had a Plan B. So the plan this year was to create a new Plan A and that is the way we went.

That was the way we went last season and went about our recruitment and there’s been a lot of successes in that, but not in terms of league position. Mid-table two years on the trot is not good enough for me and I’m sure it’s not good enough for you guys.

That is why I have become disengaged. I watch every game because I have a little camera here and watch every game from home live ,but because of the ongoing rumours I thought it would be inappropriate for me to be about lauding it as my football clubs when I had agreed a deal with somebody to take it over.

Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall is attending the club’s home match with Stockport County at Huish Park.

The club’s official Twitter account has posted that he was “addressing supporters” in the Alec Stock Lounge ahead of the game with the Glovers’ Trust calling for fans to protest at the game and outside Huish Park after the final whistle

It is the first time the owner has been seen at the ground on a matchday since the FA Cup third round match, televised on BBC, in January, and comes after the club said last night that the chairman was “assembling a new board” for next season.

In the past 24 hours, it has also been revealed a deal to sell the club’s Huish Park stadium and land surrounding it to South Somerset District Council is close to completion, and director Glenn Collis resigned saying he had “questions about the club’s direction.

We understand around 100 people were present to listen to the chairman talk, although there’s no indication is the event was open access. The video of his address to supporters will be made available on the club’s YouTube channel this weekend, it said.

In a statement posted on social media ahead of the game with the National League leaders, the Glovers’ Trust called on fans to “protest peacefully, but vocally” outside Huish Park immediately after the match.

It said: “We encourage all fans to make their voices heard during the game in a peaceful manner. We would also encourage fans to gather outside the club’s entrance to continue to make our voices heard after the final whistle.

“Let’s protest peacefully, but vocally. It has never been more important for fans to make their feelings known.

“This is bigger than any game or any season. This is about fighting for the future of the club we love.

The Trust has also launched a petition calling on South Somerset District Council to reverse its decision to buy the stadium. By 1pm on Saturday, it had attracted more than 300 signatures.

You can sign and share the petition – here.

Glenn Collis has left Yeovil Town as a director with chairman Scott Priestnall “assembling a new board of directors”, the club has said.

In a statement, the club confirmed the board would include “prominent local business people” ready for next season.

Glenn Collis YTFC Director
Glenn Collis

The statement said: “Yeovil Town can confirm the departure of Glenn Collis as a club director with immediate effect.

“Collis, who has been a board member since February 2020, departs with our best wishes. All at Yeovil Town thank Glenn for his hard work during his time at the football club.

“Chairman Scott Priestnall is currently assembling a new board of directors ready for the 2022/23 season which include prominent local business people.

“We will issue a further update on board appointments in due course.

It concluded confirming the chairman will appear on the Gloverscast next week to “discuss club matters” and we can confirm we are scheduled to speak with him on Thursday evening with the recording released on Friday morning.

Collis, 41, joined as a director in February 2020 and was appointed a director of Yeovil Town Football & Athletic Club and Yeovil Town Holdings, the companies which own the club’s football operations and Huish Park stadium and the land surrounding the stadium respectively.

The announcement came hours after news broke that South Somerset District Council is close to completing a deal to buy the assets of both businesses and lease them back to the club. Find out more about that deal – here.

The Glovers’ Trust has launched a petition calling for the council to drop the deal which it describes as “a potentially catastrophic decision“. The petition is available to sign and share – here.

The Glovers’ Trust has launched a petition calling for South Somerset District Council (SSDC) to drop its plans to buy Yeovil Town’s Huish Park stadium and surrounding land.

After news broke on Friday that the council is in talks with club chairman Scott Priestnall about completing a deal, the Trust launched a petition describing the deal as “a potentially catastrophic decision for the long term security and viability of our club.

The petition is available to share and sign, here: https://chng.it/vGkNJDcsqD

The council deal would see the ‘core’ (red) and non-core (blue) land bought by SSDC.

In its statement, the Trust added: “We are concerned that there will not be the safeguards in place to ensure the football club will see any benefit from the deal, or ever be in a position to buy the assets back. We also do not believe this is a responsible use of taxpayers money.

We believe that Scott Priestnall, through his action, inaction, and silence over his tenure, has not earned the trust of supporters, to allow him to make this decision unchallenged. We call on all supporters, supporter groups, and local residents to voice their opposition to this deal. United we have a loud voice. We want to make sure that voice is heard.

We will continue to communicate with supporters in the coming days and weeks to suggest other action we might take to protect our club.”

Due to the local elections taking place on May 5, SSDC is currently in a state of purdah. This means that no announcements can be made by the local authority regarding any major decisions. However, proposals can be completed during purdah.

Gloverscast understands that if the deal is not completed by the end of May 2022, the ability to complete the transaction will becoming increasingly difficult. SSDC merges with other councils to become one new unitary council and there is draft legislation which could prevent deals over a certain value being completed without a new approval process.

The Trust can also activate the Asset of Community Value held on the site from May 26 2022.

For more about what we understand about the deal, see – here.

  • Gloverscast understands representatives of chairman Scott Priestnall and South Somerset District Council (SSDC) are working on completing the deal agreed in November 2020 which will see the council buy Huish Park and the surrounding land.
  • Due to local elections taking place in May, SSDC are currently in a period of ‘purdah’ meaning no announcements can be made by the council which may influence the elections – although a deal can still be completed.
  • SSDC allocated £2.8m in its February budget to complete the purchase, which will need to be complete before the end of May.

Representatives of South Somerset District Council and Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall are working on completing a deal to buy Huish Park and land surrounding the stadium.

The deal would then see the council rent the land and stadium back to the club.

As the ongoing uncertainty over a takeover by Simul Sports continues, the deal with the council is seen as one which secures the future the club, the only professional football club in the county.

Due to the local elections taking place on May 5 2022, SSDC is currently in a state of purdah. This means that no announcements can be made by the local authority regarding any major decisions. However, proposals can be completed during purdah.

Gloverscast understands that if the deal is not completed by the end of May 2022, the ability to complete the transaction will becoming increasingly difficult. SSDC merges with other councils to become one new unitary council and there is draft legislation which could prevent deals over a certain value being completed without a new approval process. The Glovers Trust can also activate the Asset of Community Value held on the site from May 26 2022.

We have approached Scott Priestnall for comment and, at the time of publication, have not received a response.


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 Scott Priestnall and fellow director Glenn Collis are both directors of both companies.

Under the SSDC Proposal the 10.2 acre area in red is the ‘core’ land, while the 14.5 acre area in blue is ‘non-core’.

Land owned by Yeovil Town Holdings Limited is bordered in red – except the bit in mint green which is owned by Yeovil Football & Athletic Club Limited.

 


SSDC Deal – Who’s said what?

Councillor Val Keitch, leader of South Somerset District Council.

The deal was approved by SSDC’s District Executive Committee on December 3 2020. In the aftermath of the decision, Council Leader Val Keitch said: “The decision to approve this proposal was made today following a detailed and thorough debate which was quite right given its importance.

“We have agreed to make an investment that will not only benefit a football club which has such an important role to play in our community but one which will also benefit our residents.

“It is our responsibility to ensure we offer any support where we can to businesses big and small, which we have done before and throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to do so.”

Speaking at the time,  Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall said: “I would like to thank the officers at SSDC for their time and effort in putting together the proposal to buy the stadium and land at Huish Park.

Scott Priestnall.

“Being a chairman and owner of a football club is very different to operating other businesses and as a custodian of this fantastic club, I feel it is my duty to not only ensure its survival during these difficult times but also to give it the future the community and the supporters deserve.

“I would finally like to thank local councillors for their time and support today and I look forward to moving forward with SSDC and working with our supporters’ groups to deliver the best possible future for Yeovil Town Football Club.”

On January 2 2021, the Glovers’ Trust activated an Asset of Community Value held on the site, putting a pause to the deal for six months. A statement from the Trust said: “The Board recognises that the proposed sale of Huish Park and the surrounding land to South Somerset District Council (SSDC) is a pivotal moment in the history of Yeovil Town Football Club. With the ACV, the Board has the ability to enable a pause on the deal with SSDC, and consider putting together its own bid.”

The pause was to give the Trust time to raise the cash to make an offer to rival the council’s. It did not manage to do that but, during the moratorium period, it began conversations with Simul Sports, a group led by former Cardiff City commercial director, Julian Jenkins, which has subsequently publicly confirmed it is interested in buying Yeovil Football & Athletic Club Ltd..

Upon the expiry of the six month moratorium period, the Glovers’ Trust released a statement, including the following: “Without the delay, the proposed deal between owners of Huish Park and SSDC would have been rushed through by January 2021, long before any reasonable scrutiny could have been conducted. The delay has also given others the chance to reflect on the scheme and for the cultivation of a belief that a better route can be found to secure the long-term security of our club. The provisional plans shared with us by the SSDC may bring a limited short term financial boost, however there is no legal framework to guarantee that YTFC benefits from the scheme over the longer term. We believe that under this proposal the future of YTFC is in jeopardy.”

When SSDC announced the proposal in November 2020, at the height of the pandemic, it said: “Yeovil Town Football Club is the only professional football club in Somerset. As such, it contributes to the local economy and contributes more widely in terms of community, education and local civic pride. The COVID-19 pandemic has directly caused the loss of virtually all spectator revenue for the club. The club has sought to reduce its cost base. Overall, the remaining costs will cause the club to run out of money within a short period unless it is able to secure a substantial financial injection. The proposal is for the Council to purchase the main property and land asset of the club at Huish Park and lease it back to the club.”


In conclusion

Obviously, the situation that the club finds itself in now is different. Supporters have been able to attend matches all season and from the matches at Huish Park so far, the average attendance is 2355, (down from 2951 in 2019/20). The relationship between the owner and supporters has eroded over the course of the last 12 months with signs of ‘Priestnall Out’ appearing amongst supporters in the stadium and online.

On November 24 2020, a statement on YTFC.net announcing the deal included a plea regarding the ACV from Priestnall saying: “Simply put, we cannot wait six months to complete a deal with SSDC given our current financial position.” 18 months later, with nearly £1m in loans from Sport England held against the club (in fairness, Che$terfield have taken on more than YTFC), the club is still standing, however, rumours swirl about unpaid bills with local businesses.

As before, an aspect of this deal which is concerning, is that taxpayers’ money will be going to an un-ringfenced pot that is entrusted to an owner who has rarely been seen in public at Huish Park this season. If this deal is completed it appears that the immediate future of the land and football club will remain in the hands of Scott Priestnall.

There is a determination from SSDC to get this deal completed before the end of May and a belief that this protects the long term future of football in Yeovil, be that in it’s current form or in the form of a phoenix club.

In an open letter to Scott Priestnall from the Gloverscast team on 4 April (signed by nearly 1,500 people), we asked for answers to questions and following a conversation with Priestnall, we arranged an interview to be conducted on April 28 for an episode of the Gloverscast.

Yeovil Town chairman and owner Scott Priestnall has contacted the Gloverscast following the publication of an open letter signed by more than 1,000 supporters in just 48 hours.

Following a conversation with Ian on Wednesday night, he has committed to coming on an upcoming edition of the podcast to answer the questions poised around the future of the club both on and off the field.

We thank you all for your support to the open letter.