Kate Breese, Administrator of Farnborough Football & Social Club Limited states as follows:
“Further to my last update, I give my continued gratitude to all of the staff who are keeping the club trading at this difficult time and for the volunteers who have turned out for free to assist with the pitch improvements. This thank you extends to FaST who put up the funds for the pitch, without which no pitch improvements could have been implemented.
As most supporters of Farnborough FC will be aware of by now, this current week is of monumental importance to the club’s future and even its existence. The Football Conference AGM is on 8th June 2013 (this Saturday) at which the Football Conference Board will determine whether Farnborough FC can be admitted for membership of The Football Conference South next season. All technical requirements have been satisfied to date so as to try and ensure that this happens. A creditors meeting has been called on 7 June 2013 so as to approve a CVA for the club prior to the AGM. The administrators proposals for the conduct of the administration were approved at a meeting of creditors on 30 May 2013. We are currently in dialogue with The Football Conference to ensure that they are satisfied to allow Farnborough FC to play in The Football Conference South next season and we hope for this to be confirmed at the AGM.
I announced in my last release that a bid had been made to acquire the club out of administration that was subject to a larger development of the ground site and surrounding parkland. Given that this is Council owned land, the bid is therefore subject to Council support for the proposed development. The proposal essentially would involve the Council granting a long term lease over the entire site to the proposed purchaser in return for a rent and profit share from a joint venture. Benefits to the Council would also include business rates from the retail development and rates from the residential project. The bidder would put the monies up for the development into the joint venture and the Council would put in a long lease over the land. There is no cash request from the Council or any bank and therefore the only real issue surrounding the development is planning and Council agreement to enter into such a joint venture arrangement.
An initial proposal was made to Rushmoor Borough Council in mid May which in a meeting was warmly received with specific issues raised, primarily around planning policy. After requests for a follow up meeting, it became apparent that the Council could not support the project. Having listened to the objections that the Council had raised, the proposed purchaser revised the development. This revised proposal seeks to ensure that the current park area is protected solely for leisure and recreational facilities, including 5 x 4G pitches, a wooded parkland area and playground, and over 100 allotments. It has then concentrated the housing, retail, charitable housing and sports village developments on the existing ground and immediate surrounding area. It was hoped that this would alleviate the major concerns that the Council had raised over the project. Unfortunately, having had a meeting with Andrew Lloyd and the planning department of Rushmoor Borough Council, the Council are still not in a position to support this project. A number of planning issues have been raised by the Council. However, I am more than disappointed as my own planning legal advisors, who have completed on a number of sporting developments similar to that proposed, have confirmed that all planning issues that have arisen can be overcome. Planning policy is policy, a guideline for development, it does not prevent development if the positives outweigh the negatives. This matter would appear to boil down to whether or not members of the Council want this project to happen for the benefit of Farnborough FC and the surrounding community. The current position is clearly disappointing from my own view having brought a well funded bidder to the table but I still hope that a resolution can be reached.
Again, the proposed purchaser has taken on the further objections that the Council have raised and are currently preparing a very detailed proposal which I hope to be in a position to release in the near future. The proposed purchaser is fully aware that all planning issues cannot be overcome in the immediate future. They simply require an answer from the Council as to whether, despite any planning issues, the Council will assist the bidder in trying to overcome these issues. Effectively, the bidder wants to know if in principal, the Council members would like to see this project happen. The proposal is a joint venture between the bidder and the Council. That means that both parties need a desire to make the project work. At present, the Council appear unwilling to enter such a joint venture. As such, this bid is unlikely to progress further unless there is a change in the Council’s position. I do hope though that with the further revised proposal about to be sent to the Council that they will consider it thoroughly and begin a process of engagement to agree an acceptable project between the two parties. In terms of support for this project, the overwhelming majority of people I have been in contact with appear to be supportive of the scheme. The project will be subject to consultation but to assist that process I urge all supporters of Farnborough FC and those in the local community that want to see this development happen to contact their local councillors urgently to show their support for the project.
I make this statement now because of the severity of the situation surrounding the club. A bid has been made which aims to fundamentally restructure the club’s business so that the club can move away from being reliant upon a sole individual and instead has its own diverse revenue streams. However, if the bid is not given the backing of Rushmoor Borough Council, it simply cannot proceed in which case I would have serious concerns for the viability of the club. I therefore again urge the supporters and the community to try and make this sale happen by getting in contact with their councillors and local MP to back the bid.
In the meantime, I would encourage any interested parties who wish to acquire the club to contact me as a matter of urgency.
James Moore of Walker Morris and lawyer to the administrator states:
“The current position is frustrating. All concerned have put so much effort into bringing a fully funded purchaser to the table. These type of projects have already been done across the country and on far larger scales.
Each project throws up their own specific issues and so this is no different. The common thread however is whether the Council wants the project to happen or not. If they do, the project invariably does happen. This is Council land and they are fully within their rights to deal with the land as they choose.
It is just a shame that this once in a lifetime opportunity has not been grasped by both hands and taken on board. The bid involves no bank funding and is a pure private cash injection to fully regenerate the whole area, including the ground. Our principle objective is to save the club, but this bid does far more than that. It regenerates a community which could act as a blue print for clubs at this level and higher. We all understand the legalities of the situation.
No one is expecting the granting of planning permission overnight. All concerned understand that the project is subject to consultation and surveys. The bidder is just looking for Council support for the project, regardless of the planning issues raised as these issues can be overcome. At the moment that support has not been forthcoming but the bidder is determined and is working hard on a further revised and very detailed proposal for the Council to consider.
The business model will provide an estimated return to the Council of almost £7M over 25 years which would come from a profit share, rates and rent, and this would come from a site which currently does not generate any money but instead costs the Council money.
We all hope that this bid progresses soon but the key is public and Council support as the bidder is determined to work with the Council to overcome their objections and make this proposal work. There are however time restrictions so all parties do need to move quickly”