Barnet Council freezes Saracens stadium loan – report

Barnet Council has reportedly frozen further payments to Saracens for the redevelopment of the Premiership rugby club’s stadium.

The BBC has reported that Barnet Council considered terminating its £22.9m (€27.6m/$29.8m) loan for the redevelopment but has instead opted to freeze payments.

Saracens was last month handed a further 70-point deduction, a move that guaranteed the side will be relegated to the second-tier Championship at the end of the season. It came as punishment for the club’s continued breaking of salary cap rules.

Premiership Rugby said the points deduction was made to ensure the club finishes bottom of the Premiership and “provide clarity for clubs and supporters”.

Earlier in January, Saracens decided to accept relegation after admitting it will fail to meet salary cap regulations for the fourth consecutive season. Premiership Rugby in November handed Saracens a 35-point deduction and a fine in excess of £5m for breaches of its salary cap rules.

Saracens plays at Allianz Park but last week Allianz opted to end its role as the stadium naming-rights partner and main sponsor of the club a year early in light of the salary cap scandal.

The stadium will now be renamed for the 2020-21 season and the BBC has reported that Barnet Council last month placed a “temporary stop” on its loan, which would fund a new West Stand at Allianz Park.

The report added that if Saracens were to access any more of the loan, Barnet Council would request viewing of a “robust revised business plan”.

A report from Barnet Council seen by the BBC said: “The agreement allows the council to terminate the loan if ‘any event occurs (or circumstances exist) which, in the opinion of the Lender, has or is likely to have a Material Adverse Effect’.

“However, terminating the loan before the club have had a chance to take stock of the current position could put the council in conflict with the club, which is likely to make it harder to recover the £3.2m already drawn down. Putting the council in conflict with the club may also jeopardise any community benefits brought by the development of the West Stand.”

Image: Saracens