Stoke City’s latest accounts have revealed that the Championship club’s stadium was sold to betting company bet365, which holds the naming rights to the venue, in May last year.
The accounts state that bet365 Stadium was bought by the company for £70.25m (€83.7m/$91.7m) on May 28, 2021, according to the Stoke Sentinel newspaper.
The development comes as Stoke looks to stay within the English Football League (EFL)’s Financial Fair Play regulations. The sale was processed shortly before EFL rules changed to prevent clubs from selling their stadiums for a profit.
According to the Sentinel, Stoke posted a £56m loss for the 12 months leading to March 2021 as matches were held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced parachute payments following Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League in 2018 also contributed to the losses.
Bet365 was founded by Stoke chairman Peter Coates. Bet365 acquired naming rights to the club’s home ground, which was previously called the Britannia Stadium, in the summer of 2016.
Last month, Stoke revealed plans for a five-year development programme at the stadium. A £4m initial phase of the programme, which will also incorporate Stoke’s Clayton Wood training ground, will commence at the end of the season and is scheduled for completion ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.
In the biggest project, the stadium’s Delilah’s Bar will undergo a complete transformation into a sports bar on the lower floor, complete with a new lay-out, the installation of large screen TVs, new toilet facilities and enhanced bar and catering facilities.
The club said the upper level will also be refurbished with “more of a function suite feel”. Both facilities will also be available for events and functions on non-match days. The existing kitchen on the ground level will be upgraded and a new kitchen will be installed on the upper level.
In addition, more than 8,400 new seats will be installed in the Franklyn Stand, bringing the seating in line with the rest of the stadium which was upgraded over the course of 2016 and 2017, whilst the concourses in the Tile Mountain and South Stands will be upgraded with new washroom facilities replacing those installed when the 30,000-seat stadium was built in 1997.