Vitesse ends GelreDome dispute with lease extension

Featured image credit: Arnhemcity12/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Vitesse Arnhem has secured a new lease deal to continue playing at the GelreDome, ending a dispute that threatened the future of the Dutch Eredivisie football club.

After what Vitesse said were “intensive negotiations”, the club yesterday (Thursday) announced it has reached an agreement with stadium owner Nedstede to extend the lease through to October 1, 2030.

Vitesse last month said it was confident it will continue to play in the GelreDome next season, despite losing a court case concerning its long-running stadium lease deal dispute. Vitesse initially opted to cancel its lease agreement at the GelreDome back in September 2018 as it sought to strike a better deal to play at the stadium.

Vitesse has called the GelreDome home since the stadium opened in March 1998, but holds subtenant status under an agreement with main tenant Exploitatiemaatschappij GelreDome and stadium owner, Amsterdam real estate company Nedstede Leisure Participaties.

The club’s previous contract included a clause by which it would be extended by a further 20 years through to 2043. Ahead of a deadline of October 1, 2018, Vitesse activated a clause through which the deal was effectively due to end on October 1, 2023.

Vitesse’s prior agreement cost the club €2.15m (£1.89m/$2.34m) per year, but the top division side said it offered “very limited operating options”. Vitesse also believed the contract was overpriced in the current marketplace.

Vitesse in January filed a lawsuit against Nedstede, but a preliminary ruling at the end of February went against the club. The case had some degree of urgency with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) having required confirmation from member clubs by February 28 of where they will play their home games during the 2023-24 season.

This deadline was later extended to April 11, but if Vitesse failed to comply it ran the risk of sanctions ranging from fines through to the ultimate punishment of the withdrawal of its professional club licence.

Vitesse yesterday said that part of the agreement reached between the parties is that all current legal proceedings will be terminated immediately. The club also hailed the role of prospective new owner, American businessman Coley Parry, in breaking the deadlock.

“There is now finally clarity and therefore also peace regarding this case, also in the context of the licence conditions,” said Peter Rovers, interim general manager of Vitesse.

“It was an annoying situation that we as a club should have resolved earlier. For this (deal) we would like to express our gratitude to the parties involved, in particular to Michael van de Kuit of Stadion Arnhem, and of course also to our intended new owner Coley Parry. He played an important role in the negotiating talks, which is illustrative of his commitment to our club.”

Van de Kuit added: “It was a complicated issue that took a lot of time and energy from all of us. It’s good that we can put that behind us now. 

“I look forward to working with Coley Parry, Peter Rovers and all others involved with Vitesse. Stadion Arnhem will join the Vitesse Advisory Board.”