Cambridge Fans United pass the £1,000,000 mark in their bid to repurchase the Abbey Stadium
Wed 17th Mar 2010 | Clubs Ownership
Cambridge Fans United’s bold scheme to buy-back The Abbey Stadium from Bideawhile for the benefit of the Club, fans and the wider community received a huge boost yesterday with news of a single confirmed pledge of £250,000. There have now been in excess of 600 individual pledges - taking the running total at this moment to in excess of £1M with more pledges coming through all the time.
A pre-exemption clause attaching to the lease between current owners Bideawhile and Cambridge United FC gives the Club a chance to facilitate its own buy back of the ground in preference to the agreed sale to major property developer, Grosvenor Developments. This clause effectively gives only another 8 days for the Club and Trust to raise an initial deposit of £350K and secure guaranteed funding to pay the remaining sum of £3.15 million pounds.
At a public meeting held at the Supporters Club on Monday evening, Fans Trust Chairman, Dave Matthew-Jones said “There is no escaping the fact that this is a huge task, but to have come from nowhere to pledges in excess of £1M in seven days is an outstanding feat. We certainly are confident of raising the rest but time is running very short.”
Colin Proctor, Fans Elected Director of CUFC, commented that a scheme was being set up with the help of experienced London solicitors and City financiers who would ensure that the scheme met criteria laid down by the Financial Services Authority. “We originally felt a Community Interest Company (“CIC”) would best serve our purposes but we are exploring all avenues including a PLC and have people working on inventive ways of funding the non-returnable £350K deposit”. He continued “It is important that potential investors are aware that we are offering an opportunity to invest in a football stadium and the land upon which it sits. Our ultimate goal is to decrease the current rent that Cambridge United pays, whilst offering a good rate of return for investors into the scheme”.
Paul Barry, Chairman of CUFC issued a statement supporting the initiative “This football club is blessed with some of the most loyal and imaginative fans in the country. The Board has supported CFU since it was formed over 10 years ago, and we are appreciative of the work they are doing to try to raise the funds needed to buy the freehold of the R Costings Abbey Stadium. Whilst in the past the Club has been in a position to discuss with Bideawhile buying back the Stadium, at this present time the funds are simply not available to us. With time being short on the option, I hope for a positive outcome that will put the club on a stronger financial footing."
CUFC Director Renford Sargent attended the meeting and echoed these sentiments but said the finances of the football club meant the board of directors could not collectively commit additional finance “Whilst individual directors may very well wish to make personal pledges into the scheme, the Board has to make the day-to-day running of the football club its priority.”
Colin Proctor added “We have come a long way in a week, and pledges of support are coming in all the time. However, we are under no illusions that the task ahead will be easy. We wish to speak with all the parties involved, including Bideawhile and Grosvenor Developments in the hope of reaching a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.”
Colin Proctor (CFU fans director of Cambridge United FC) 07908 862304
Dave Matthew-Jones (Chairman CFU) 07703 274034
Mark Stuart-Wood (CFU spokesman) 07709 328371/0208 920 6919
Robert Osborn (Chair of Monday’s CFU meeting) 07855 306567
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