English League Two football club Swindon Town and its Supporters’ Trust have agreed terms to acquire the freehold for the County Ground stadium.
A new joint venture company between the club and the Trust will assume the freehold when contracts are formally exchanged with Swindon Borough Council, which currently owns the ground, in the coming weeks.
Swindon announced the deal to buy the stadium last March and the club has now hailed a major milestone after terms were agreed between all the relevant parties.
The deal will see the County Ground leased back to the club through a 250-year lease. The joint venture company will be a 50-50 partnership between the club and supporters.
The lease-back clause will allow Swindon to redevelop the County Ground to maximise revenue and improve the stadium’s facilities. The council’s Cabinet agreed last year to sell the stadium after both the club and the fans’ group met its £2.2m (€2.6m/$2.9m) independent valuation of the ground.
As part of the deal, at least 2,300 supporters would need to commit to purchasing a community share in the joint venture with a minimum price of £19.69. The exchange of the freehold is also subject to purchase costs being met by both the club and supporters.
Swindon Town Supporters Trust will announce details of the share offer at its AGM on March 20.
Councillor David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “The agreement of terms and the formation of the joint venture company is tremendous news because the football club is such an important part of the local community. The partnership between the club and the supporters is the start of a new era, which will lay the foundations for success off the pitch as well as on it.
“Creating the joint venture was incredibly complex but our officers, the club and the supporters have worked tirelessly over the last 10 months to get to this point. We have placed the ball on the spot, now all we need to do is put it into the back of the net like Town have been doing all season.”
Supporters’ Trust chairman Steve Mytton added: “We have taken our time to ensure Swindon Town Football Club is sustainable for the long term and we are now really close to exchanging contracts and offering supporters a share in the County Ground venture. All parties have been locked in talks throughout this year and we’ve reached a good position for both the football club and supporters for the future.
“There will be more information on the Community Shares campaign at the TrustSTFC AGM on the 20 March.”
Swindon is currently top of League Two after 32 matches. The Wiltshire club has played at the 15,728-capacity County Ground since 1896.
Image: Swindon Town