Next Game: Pre-Season Friendly - Melksham Town Away on Saturday 7th July

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cherries Fans Get Final Say On Ground Sale

AFC Bournemouth's fans are in a unique position within football - being able to dictate the future of their Dean Court stadium.

Most Fans Trusts that own Clubs do not own the playing surface, but AFC Bournemouth own the ground outright - and the supporters trust, Community Mutual, have 51% of the voting rights in it's future.

Bournemouth are struggling under a massive debt. In 1997 they went into receivership owing £4m and were rescued by a fans trust that became the Community Mutual organisation in 2000. The organisation has over 2,500 members and has raised over £1m for the club.

Redevelopment of the crumbling Dean Court stadium has cost the club dearly. Three sides were redeveloped in 2001, but the fourth side has only just had a temporary 1,100 seat stand built, however the financial side of the club has failed to adequately sustain the redevelopment of the stadium and League One football, and the club now has debts estimated at £7m.

The club has proposed the sale of Dean Court for £3.5m to a London based property company to ease existing debts, with an immedate lease back estimated to cost the club £360,000 per year.

However, a second more ambitious plan has now been put in place. The wholesale changes of pension plans recently implemented by the Government means that individuals can now invest their pensions into practically any tangible item. The "AFC Bournemouth Supporters Pension Scheme" intends to use the pension capital of supporters to purchase the Dean Court site for £5.25m, and charge a similar rent to the property company offer. As few as 40 supporters investing a £50,000 pension capital each will allow the scheme to work, and it would generate £1.75m more for the site than is currently on the table. The scheme works by putting sufficient capital up for the scheme to take a mortgage out on Dean Court, with the Pension Fund size increasing by the £60,000 yearly difference between the rental payments made by the club and the mortgage costs, and external investment in other commercial property.

Community Mutual members have until November 9th to vote on the matter.