Sunday, 12 May 2013

How important is it for AFCB to own its ground?

I have always thought it was extremely important for football clubs to own their ground as it gives them much more manoeuvrability when they own the freehold to make developments and the club is not wasting money in paying large sums in rent. The sale of the freehold for a quick cash injection should be as a last resort and in AFCB's case it probably was a choice of that or going out of business in 2005.

But when should the club look to buy back the freehold again or should it forget the idea? Does the flexibility of only paying rent offer the chance to move to a different location at some point in the future?

Property investors Structadene are the current owners of the freehold at Dean Court and there have been various attempts to buy back the ground from the company, but things have been quiet on the surface since 2011, when AFCB was unsuccessful in two attempts to come to an agreement. At that time Mr Mitchell was willing to offer quite a large sum of money to secure the club's future in this respect, but he did have a cap.

"I don't think it makes commercial sense to increase that bid above that ceiling of £4.5m," Mitchell said in 2011.

Since then the club has invested in other areas around ground and it's likely that the club has such a pot of gold now, while investments in other areas are still ongoing. At the moment it seems sensible for the club to invest firstly in securing the current squad that has been promoted and to see if further strengthening is needed in the team, rather than on making any further approaches to Structadene.

With higher attendances forecast for AFCB and with better TV revenue and all other interest that comes with being in the Championship, hopefully the club will start to accumulate revenue with the ultimate aim of one day buying back the ground. Yet, the club will have higher expenses in the Championship and it has had to rely on the financial support of Mr Demin for its growth. With stand development, training ground changing rooms and shop extensions being key consideration this summer, it doesn't look like AFCB wants to move away from Dean Court and I am at least pleased about that.

What do you feel about the ground's ownership? How much of a priority should it be if the club intends to stay in Kings Park?


  1. There are many variables that as fans we're unaware of, could we in fact move away from Dean Court even if there was land available. We don't know the small print in the lease which may have us tied up in knots. Then you have a landlord who it seems has little or no intention of selling, whilst the rent continues to grow he's laughing. Then there is a possible scenario that I read elsewhere, which let's face it means nothing, but if correct could make more sense of our situation, and it's let's say, a Director of Structdene lost monies to a Director of AFC Bournemouth, and as I said, wholly conjecture, but IF correct, is this their way of payback???

    Could we move???
    Much as I'd dislike the thought of leaving Kings Park, if it meant financial security because we were growing substantially as a club and we could sustain gates of around 25,000 then of cause move. Where??? now that's another ball game. Matchams is the main candidate. That in itself throws up many problems, although access on and off the Spur road I'd suggest would be easily put in place. So without writing too much more drivel, YES, we should buy the ground at a SENSIBLE price, or if possible, look to move elsewhere. IF Maxim has in his mind to aim for the Premier League the WHOLE Ground would need developing. If he is content (as I certainly would be)to develop as a Championship side hovering around the Play Off's, then stay put and continue dialogue.....

  2. Some great comments Afcbpete. It seems that the more successful the club becomes the more this question will come to the fore. Having invested so heavily at Dean Court in recent years and with building a new away stand and the new training pitches, it would seem a costly business decision for the club to leave Kings Park in a few years time.

    1. At the moment they haven't built the South Stand, it looks as though it will be a temporary one to begin with. But you're quite right, they have spent heavily even without the stand, although in the overall scheme of things, would that really make a difference should Demin say enough's enough we'll look elsewhere, IF that were possible?
      Certainly not a question you or I could answer.
      But I'd be saying, well yes, we've spent a fair bit, but what the heck, it's all tax deductible they can stick their stadium, we'll build a state of the art one just find me the land Mr Mitchell.
      OK, dream on I hear you say, and quite right too haaa haaa haaaa...

  3. True, the South stand has not been built yet. But if it is built that probably makes it harder to move away from Dean Court in the short- to medium-term. Long-term though a new stadium could be the answer if things can't be sorted with Structadene at Dean Court, even if it does seem a pipe dream at the moment. Somehow, I don't think we have heard the end of this subject yet and the club is likely to revisit it sooner or later.