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Debt-stricken football club forced to sell up
CASH-strapped Malvern Town Football Club is being forced to sell off its home of more than 65 years.
The club has defaulted on a debt of about £100,000 to Marstons brewery, which has now appointed a receiver to push through the sale of the Langland Stadium.
The club had already been eyeing-up re-location and had been courting several developers over the Langland Avenue site – which is viewed as potential prime housing land.
But Margaret Scott, the club’s treasurer and football secretary, admitted the sale is now out of the club’s hands. Steven Williams, of business rescue and recovery specialist Begbies-Traynor, has been appointed by Marstons as receiver to push through the sale.
He said the club had been given as much opportunity as possible to pay off its debt.
“But the brewery has got to a point where they have allowed the club time to try and deliver a sale or re-finance, but it became clear that was not going to happen in the short-term,” he said.
He said the sale of Langland Stadium is complicated by the fact that a covenant on the site gives Malvern Hills District Council the first refusal if it is sold.
He warned this could see the club receive a “significantly” lower windfall than if the ground is sold to a developer on the open market.
If the council takes up its option, the land will be subject to a valuation based on its existing use as a recreation site – rather than what it might be worth as lucrative housing land.
“If we were to sell on the open market people are prepared to pay a premium,” he said. “It is a significant difference.” Mr Williams will shortly be giving the council official notice of the intent to sell. It then has three months to decide whether to take up its option. The council is aware of the situation and is “awaiting developments” but Mr Williams said: “Our indications are that the council is likely to take up its pre-emption.” The club continues to run as usual for now and Mrs Scott said the club has a buyer lined up if the council does not take up its option on the ground.
“They would arrange to build a new stadium elsewhere, clear the debt and keep the club running,” she said. She hopes the council will allow the deal to be struck on condition that the existing covenant is transferred to any new ground.
She said she has spoken to the council but received no guarantees about Malvern Town’s future if it does decide to buy the land.
“We have no assurances that they would let us carry on playing there as a tenant,” she said. A council spokesman said it is aware of the club’s situation and difficulties. “We are awaiting developments. Until we are approached formally we cannot comment further,” she said.