Peterborough United has maintained that it’s business as usual, despite the company which owns the English League One football club’s Weston Homes Stadium entering receivership.
Weston Homes Stadium is owned by London Road Peterborough Properties Ltd (LRPPL), an entity established when the club concluded a deal to reacquire the facility from Peterborough City Council in March 2021.
The process to regain control of the stadium was started when Darragh MacAnthony sold half his stake in United to Canada-based Jason Neale and Stewart Thompson in 2018. It emerged yesterday (Tuesday) that Thompson, and his fund OKR Financial, had appointed Begbies Traynor as Law of Property Act (LPA) receivers to take control of the stadium following a long-running dispute over unpaid loans.
OKR is the club’s largest creditor, following a £5.2m (€5.9m/$6.4m) loan made to the club in 2021 that was secured against the 15,000-seat stadium, land and adjoining property. The receivers are now responsible for the stadium and the other secured assets, with the aim of recovering OKR’s outstanding debt of £6.6m, which remains outstanding despite what is claimed to have been ongoing efforts to recover the overdue loan payments since October.
It has been stressed that the appointment does not apply to Peterborough United as a business, which continues to occupy the stadium under the terms of its lease. The appointment empowers the receivers to take immediate control of the ground and the surrounding parcels of land that were used as collateral to secure the loans made in 2021.
Ideally, OKR has said this action will culminate in a successful settlement where no further action is required, regarding the multiple loans the club has outstanding. However, the receiver has the power to force a sale of the property, and can collect rent and forward this to the lender.
Thompson, managing partner of OKR Financial, said: “Attempts to move loans between entities, the addition of new debt, and an attempt to change the ownership structure are all actions that have been taken by certain club directors, which when viewed in their entirety, indicate a lack of willingness on the part of these parties to maintain fiscal responsibility regarding the management of the club.
“It is a shame that this distracts from the good work on the field by the manager and the team.”
In response, United said in a statement: “It’s important to note that these are two separate legal entities and PUFC are fully compliant with the terms of the lease, which runs until 2039 and the business will continue to operate as usual. We are advised that the owners of LRPPL continue to negotiate with its primary lender and are confident that a solution can be found.”
In May, United confirmed the launch of a bond scheme designed to help finance key club infrastructure projects such as redevelopment work for its Weston Homes Stadium and ongoing plans for a new home.