Glanford Park, the home of Scunthorpe United, has been bought by a not-for-profit company in a move that secures the long-term future of the National League North club.
The New Show Ground CIC, a community interest company, will be made up of club officials, community representatives, members of North Lincolnshire Council, and Scunthorpe supporters.
The ground and surrounding land has been secured with some private backing from supporters, with the majority being government cash through the Town Deal Fund.
Development work around the ground is expected to create around 100 jobs, with the deal also anticipated to provide up to 150 homes for older residents and people with complex needs. The development area has already secured outline planning permission.
Early plans are in place to enable the creation of new employment in the leisure, health and wellbeing sectors, as well as other fields.
It has been a turbulent past few years for Scunthorpe. The club was in the second-tier Championship as recently as 2011 but back-to-back relegations in the last two seasons have seen the club drop into the sixth tier.
In October, the club was bought by local businesswoman Michelle Harness from previous owner David Hilton.
Harness said: “Wanting to bring Glanford Park back to Scunthorpe United supporters and the community was the reason I stood up in the first place, along with the board of directors. To all of us, it’s why we’ve been working hard every day and every night. It means a lot to the board, it means a lot to me, and I know hugely that it means a lot to the fans.
“Going forward, we need to continue to tackle the extreme levels of debt that were left with the club when we took custodian. Donations from local businesses and people around the town have been totally humbling, and it shows how desperate everyone in the area has been to keep their beloved football club going.
“All of the additional money that we’ve been able to get in is helping to pay off our debt and get us one step closer to being more sustainable as a football club, which we are striving to do every day.
“The hard work doesn’t stop. In fact, it truly does start today. We got our football club back. We got Glanford Park, our home, back and now, we must fight to keep it, and the only way we can do that is through donations, sponsorship, buying tickets and merchandise, and supporting as many of our initiatives as you possibly can.”
Holly Mumby-Croft, MP for Scunthorpe and vice-chair of the town’s Fund Board, added: “This deal represents a bright new future for club, for the community and for our town – it has been backed by government cash. Securing the ground as Scunthorpe United’s home will be a welcome relief to fans who now know that the team will always be able to play at Glanford Park.
“We have had meetings with the club and with government to get the right deal in place to make sure the community is a key part of developing a new sustainable future. Glanford Park not being in the hands of any one single person was critical to securing that new future.”
Scunthorpe is currently second in the National League North table.