Football club are ‘still the legal owners’ of home ground
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Directors at a Non-League football club have quashed rumours that they are looking to sell their home ground.
As rumours circulate over the ownership of Crown Meadow, the board of directors at Lowestoft Town FC confirmed they are 'still the legal owners'.
Issuing a statement 'to dispel rumours that have been spreading in recent weeks,' the directors said 'there are no immediate plans to sell'.
As Lowestoft's 'near critical' financial plight had been made public in March the club confirmed last month that after step three status had been secured, lots of hard work had gone on behind the scenes – combined with support from creditors – to ensure they could start to plan for next season in the Southern League Central.
The statement said: 'Lowestoft Town FC have had the Crown Meadow as our home continuously since 1894 but as with any ground of this age the cost of maintenance is ever increasing with buildings deteriorating through age.
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'So although the desire is to stay here, the directors would be failing in their duty to secure the long term future of the club if we failed to explore other opportunities as they arise.'
Speculation surrounding ownership of the ground is believed to have been fuelled by two recent developments, which would have entailed selling Crown Meadow. The first involved a possible merger with Kirkley & Pakefield FC, as both teams met to discuss an offer of developing a 10-acre site in south Lowestoft to construct a National League standard ground. The directors said: 'A meeting was arranged and it was no surprise that Kirkley & Pakefield FC were equally unenthusiastic as ourselves and the subject was dropped.'
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Previous options of moving to a new ground had been suggested almost a decade ago, as Lowestoft submitted a notice of interest to Waveney District Council in November 2009 'should a suitable site for a new stadium become available'.
The directors added: 'Waveney District Council have long mooted the idea of developing a multi sports complex including a new ground for Lowestoft Town FC. We have recently been informed of a provisional site which Waveney District Council, together with Lowestoft Town Council and Sentinel Leisure, have identified and are keen to develop.'
Lowestoft's board of directors added: 'The social club building is subject of a loan for which there is a legal charge against it for security purposes.
'The loan was initially taken out in 2007 to enable the club to buy back the social club building from Peter Gamble so that the club owned the ground and all buildings on the site.
'This loan was increased in 2014 to offset the cost of ground improvements necessary to obtain the 'B' grading required to compete at Step 2 level – The National League North/South.
'The loan was kindly given by Badger Building and is at a very competitive rate. The monthly loan payments have always been honoured until recently when with the full agreement of Badger Building payments were suspended whilst we try and put our house in order.
'A recent informal valuation of the ground put its value in the region of £2m. Unfortunately club assets are not the same as cash in the bank.'