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Finance

Swindon moves closer to County Ground purchase

Featured image credit: Steve Daniels/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

English League Two football club Swindon Town has moved closer to purchasing its County Ground stadium after contracts were signed and exchanged with Swindon Borough Council.

Swindon is seeking to purchase the stadium as part of a joint venture that will see the venue jointly owned by the club and its supporters.

The County Ground Stadium Custodians, a joint venture between the club and Swindon Town Community Mutual Ltd (TrustSTFC), has now exchanged contracts with the council. A deposit of £230,000 has also been paid, meaning that a legally binding deal is in place to allow the stadium purchase to move forward.

The purchase of the stadium, which is owned by the council, is set to be completed by the end of March at the latest. The joint venture company will lease the stadium back to the club for 250 years.

Funding for the £2.3m acquisition is coming from the Nigel Eady Trust. Eady was a lifelong Swindon fan who passed away in January 2012, leaving money behind to be reinvested into the club and the local community.

Upon completion of the deal, the club and supporters will take full ownership of the County Ground site from the council as part of an equal 50-50 split. Swindon said this will reduce rental costs by half and allow for “significant” developments across the stadium using the money saved.

Plans for improving the stadium include upgrading two of its stands and building a hotel and conference facility on the Town End over the next five years.

Swindon chairman Clem Morfuni said: “This is massive for the football club and a significant step forward, as it means the joint venture is now fully committed to completing the purchase over the coming months. We’d like to place on record our sincere gratitude to the Nigel Eady trustees who have been so supportive throughout this long process.”

Councillor David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, added: “I’m extremely pleased to see the County Ground will soon be in the hands of the football club and its fans. This is a deal I’ve wanted to get done for a long time and getting it over the line is all thanks to the fantastic work that has taken place behind the scenes from colleagues at the council, football club and the Supporters Trust.

“This is a huge moment for the club and the fans, and I’m sure it will prove to be a pivotal point in its history. I know the football club and the Trust have big plans for the ground, and I’m very excited to see what comes next, both on and off the pitch.”

Swindon has played at the County Ground since 1896. The completion of the stadium purchase will mark the first time the club and its supporters have owned the ground.