The Glovers’ Trust has asked South Somerset District Council to review its decision to purchase Huish Park from the owners of Yeovil Town.

In a letter to council Chief Executive Alex Parmley, the Trust said it believed club’s situation had “changed substantially” since the council’s Executive Committee approved the deal to buy and leaseback the stadium and surrounding lands at a meeting last December.

In a report to the Executive Committee for that meeting, members were told the council had been approached by Glovers’ chairman Scott Priestnall seeking its involvement “to intervene and avoid the club becoming insolvent.”

In its letter, Glovers’ Trust chairman Brendon Owen told the council: “The report stated the Chairman of the Club (had) reported that the club will ‘run out of money by Christmas 2020.’
“Here we are in May 2021, with the Club still operating, so clearly it has been able to make alternative financial arrangements. I’m sure you are aware part of this includes a loan from Sport England who now become a creditor.
“It is likely therefore that funds generated from the sale of the club will go to pay off debts and covenants that currently prevent development.”

The letter adds: “It is disingenuous of the Council to claim that it is helping save the club when it is giving with one hand and taking with the other. They club may have a short-term fix, but its long-term effects will be damaging.”

The letter warns a number of objections could be raised to any planning decision. The Trust adds it believes Sport England will appeal against any decision to develop on the top pitches at Huish Park and that development of the club’s car park would lead to supporters parking on nearby residential streets.

No planning applications have been submitted to provide details of any development of the land, however, in an update on March 1 the Trust did publish an image of a “Concept Plan” showing the potential scale of development – see here.

In its letter to the council, Mr Owen added: “As a supporter’s group we have been working with architects and master planners and have begun to construct a vision for the site, one that would make the site a destination through the working week as well as weekends, and that would be based around health and well being as well as commercial and housing developments. We believe it is possible to do all of these things.”

In the minutes of the council’s District Executive Committee on December 3, Mr Priestnall said “the finance would help the club to survive and thrive in the future to retain football league status and have a club which the local community could be proud of. “
The minutes added: “He (Priestnall) confirmed that he was not seeking to recoup any of his personal investment in the club through the transaction.”

In his last public statement published on February 24, Mr Priestnall said he was “still exploring” the deal and had “kept dialogue open” with the council.
In that statement, he added: “We also have offers to sell the land when the moratorium period ends. A decision will be made once the Sport England loan position is finalised as to our next step with regards a full planning application.”

For more details on the history of the SSDC deal and the Glovers Trust’s ACV, read our Gloversblog here.

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