Legal

Vitesse takes legal action over stadium lease dispute

Eredivisie football club Vitesse Arnhem has filed a lawsuit against the owner of its home stadium, the GelreDome.

Vitesse cancelled its sublease agreement to play at the stadium back in September 2018, citing unreasonable rental conditions. As a result, the agreement will officially expire on October 1.

Vitesse said the current agreement costs the club €2.15m (£1.89m/$2.34m) per year and offers “very limited operating options”. Vitesse is required to inform the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) of where it will be playing next season by March 1.

According to Vitesse, if the club had not cancelled the agreement it would have been extended for at least 20 years under conditions that are “not in line with the market”.

Real estate company Nedstede, which is owned by Michael van de Kuit, serves as the landlord of the GelreDome.

The club said in a statement: “In search of a solution with the stadium owner and the renting party (to Vitesse), we have adopted a constructive attitude from the very first moment. Unfortunately, for the time being without reasonable rental agreements and without success. In recent months we have continued to work hard to reach agreement on a solution. Unfortunately, this has not (yet) succeeded, but is also ongoing. 

“For the longer term, a procedure is already underway regarding the perpetual playing rights, with the aim being to continue playing in the GelreDome. In anticipation of this, summary proceedings will be initiated to continue playing football in GelreDome during these proceedings – and therefore also after September 30, 2023. Vitesse relies on a positive outcome.

“During the (legal) processes, Vitesse cannot respond further substantively. What we would like to emphasise: we recognise and feel the urgency of this issue and are doing everything we can to find the right solution (as soon as possible). With the unchanged starting point that Vitesse belongs in the GelreDome and Arnhem.”

Van de Kuit has expressed surprise at Vitesse’s decision to launch legal action.

He told the ANP news agency: “I tried to help. I’ve often said to (Vitesse) general manager Pascal van Wijk: ‘Come up with a proposal’. But then I hardly get a response, except that the price has to go down. It seems like he can’t do anything and isn’t allowed to do anything, he doesn’t seek rapprochement.”

Van de Kuit added: “It’s just like with a ticket. There is a step-by-step plan. First you get a fine, then another fine and then you have to talk. I’m waiting for a phone call and I send an email every week, but I get no response. But they are still far from revoking that license. They peak too early, but that happens often with Vitesse.”