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Club forced to sell up to fund £100,000 debt
8:48am Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
CASH-strapped Malvern Town Football Club is being forced to sell off its home of more than 65 years.
Your Malvern Gazette has learned the club has defaulted on a debt of about £100,000 to Marstons Brewery, which has now appointed a receiver to push through the sale of the Langland Stadium.
The club had already been eyeing-up a re-location and had been courting several developers over the Langland Avenue site, viewed as potential prime housing land.
But Margaret Scott, the club’s treasurer and football secretary, admitted the sale is now out of the club’s hands.
Steven Williams, of business rescue and recovery specialist Begbies-Traynor, has been appointed by Marstons as receiver to push through the sale. He said the club had been given as much opportunity as possible to pay off its debt.
“The brewery has got to a point where they have allowed the club time to try and deliver a sale or refinance, but it became clear that was not going to happen in the short-term,” he said.
He said the sale of Langland Stadium is complicated by the fact that a covenant on the site gives Malvern Hills District Council the first refusal if it is sold.
He warned this could see the club receive a “significantly” lower windfall than if the ground is sold to a developer on the open market.
If the council takes up its option, the land will be subject to a valuation based on its existing use as a recreation site rather than what it might be worth as lucrative housing land.
“If we were to sell on the open market, people are prepared to pay a premium,” he said.
“It is a significant difference.”
Mr Williams will shortly be giving the council official notice of the intent to sell.
The council will then have three months to decide whether to take up its option.
The council is aware of the situation and is “awaiting developments” but Mr Williams said: “Our indications are that the council is likely to take up its preemption.”
The club continues to run as usual for now and Mrs Scott said it has a buyer lined up if the council does not take up its option.
“They would arrange to build a new stadium elsewhere, clear the debt and keep the club running,”
Mrs Scott said she hoped the council would allow the deal to be struck on condition that the existing covenant is transferred to any new ground. She said she has spoken to the council but received no guarantees about Malvern Town’s future if it does decide to buy the land.
“We have got no assurances that they would let us carry on playing there as a tenant,” she said.
A council spokesman said it is aware of the club’s situation and financial difficulties.
“We are awaiting developments. Until we are approached formally we cannot comment further,”
MALVERN TOWN FACTFILE MALVERN
Town FC has played at Langland Stadium since its was founded in 1947.
But the club, which currently sits 20th in the Premier Division of the West Midlands League, has been eyeing a move away from the site for several years.
The current facilities are “very run-down” and the club felt a move was its best opportunity of updating and increasing its facilities and paying off its long-standing debt to Marstons Brewery – now revealed to be about £100,000.
The current ground has been sought after by several developers over the years and would provide space for somewhere in the region of 80 houses.
The football club did have a retainer agreement with Barratt Homes, which was keen to buy the site and build a new stadium off Guarlford Road.
But that agreement has now expired and earlier this year Barratt Homes told the Gazette it was no longer interested in striking a deal with Malvern Town.
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