Council agrees to buy Edgeley Park
COUNCIL bosses are set to make an unconditional offer to buy Stockport County’s historic Edgeley Park ground after plans were unanimously agreed at a crunch town hall meeting.
Executive members of Stockport council met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the deal – seen as crucial to the club’s future.
The ground had been under the threat of demolition after owners Cheshire Sports received an offer from developers.
But council bosses, keen to secure County’s future, stepped in. The town hall will now, subject to a few final checks, purchase Edgeley Park and lease it back to the club. The arrangement will not cost tax-payers a penny.
County, at present, are struggling to pay Cheshire Sports’ agreed rent, but it is understood the council is confident the new deal is manageable for the club.
Last year, we reported that County were thought to be paying Cheshire Sports around £15,000 a month in rent, before negotiating that down to £80,000 a year – and that books showed a shortfall of £200,000.
A petition with almost 5,000 signatures was received by the council ahead of the meeting, urging town hall chiefs to do ‘everything they could’ to ensure County remained at the ground.
It has not been revealed how much the council will pay Cheshire Sports for Edgeley Park, but it is thought the figure is around £2m.
Deputy council leader Iain Roberts, who chaired the meeting, said the council stepped in because there was a ‘very significant’ risk to the club’s future at Edgeley Park.
He emphasised that the deal wasn’t ‘simply about sport’, highlighting the commercial and social benefits of the deal to the borough.
Coun Roberts said the club will provide no support to the club itself, or help with maintenance or improvements at the ground.
Councillor Wendy Meikle, supporting the move, said: “I can’t imagine Stockport without the football club. It’s a community asset, it’s not just about the football ground.”
After the meeting, Stockport County Supporters Co-Operative chairman Pete Towey said: “This moves the whole issue of ground ownership along now and allows the club and fans to focus on new signings and building a team to get us back where we belong on the pitch. As long as the club takes steps to secure our future, we’re happy. But we will hold the club to account, as ever.”