Council to meet with Hereford United owners over lease transfer on Monday

Tony Johnson will be meeting with the new owners of Hereford United on Monday.

Tony Johnson will be meeting with the new owners of Hereford United on Monday.

First published in News
Last updated
Ledbury Reporter: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE Leader of Herefordshire Council is to meet with the new owners of Hereford United on Monday.

Cllr Tony Johnson is said to want “further reassurances” from the new owners as the council considers the future for two leases relating to development at United’s Edgar Street ground.

Earlier today the Hereford Times revealed that the council was ready to consider a request by the new owners for a transfer of the leases to a company within their ownership. 

The council’s lawyers are currently assessing the request which would need proof of financial standing from the new owners ahead of any assignment being considered.

At present, the current tenancy arrangements between the council and the club  remain unchanged. 

While the council is the landlord of the Edgar Street ground, it does not own or have any direct control or involvement in the club and its decisions.

The club currently owes the council around £65k in rent arrears, business rates and legal fees and the council has been assured by the new owners that all outstanding monies will be fully re-paid – with an agreement to a written undertaking to this effect.

The council has confirmed that nothing in the development leases relating to the ground changes a requirement for football to be played there.

That requirement for football remains in the original lease on the ground.

The new leases refer to redevelopment of the Meadow End and Blackfriars End and stipulate that any proceeds be re-invested in the ground and its facilities.

The council has also confirmed the current application of  an historic covenant on the ground stating that football should be there amongst other sporting uses.

At present, there is nothing in the club’s current circumstances that would change or affect the terms of the three leases  or allow them to be changed, the council said.
The renegotiated leases on the ground continue to be held by the club.  If the club folds the leases would revert back to the council.

Last Friday, the Hereford Times revealed that senior council officers had meet with Mr Agombar.

Then, the council said  meetings between those officers and Tommy Agombar were “standard introductions” with no outline of future plans for the club.

At the time, the council said it had yet to receive “formal notification” of the club’s new ownership arrangements and could not take part in negotiations without it.

Mr Agombar, the council confirmed, was introduced to those senior officers  he could expect to “engage with” in future.

The council and the club are closely entwined and most recently worked together to negotiate new leases on the ground.

Assigning the Edgar Street leases – one for 75 years on the ground and terracing to the west, the other for 33 years for the stand and parking area to the east and both dating from 1982 - was one of the last big deals done by the former Hereford City Council.

During the late 1990s, with United facing severe financial problems, the leases were reassigned to property developers in return for a £1m capital injection into the club.  

The money was made available through two companies, the BS (Bristol Stadium) Group and Chelverton.

BS and Chelverton took equal ownership of a special purpose company called Formsole Ltd which made the investment and held the leases – as the tenant under both – with the club holding sub-leases.  

By August 2001, BS had sold its “loan” to Chelverton which ran into trouble little over a year later when control of the leases passed to Carillion Richardson.

United still owed £1m plus interest to Formsole which stayed solvent when Chelverton went into liquidation.  

It was about this time there was talk of United leaving Edgar Street allowing Formsole to sell the site.

This talk came to nothing and by 2003 it was clear the club was staying at Edgar Street.  

The reassignment of the leases was supported by Herefordshire Council when it took control of the former city council’s affairs.

Getting the leases back was pitched as a political priority when the news broke in April 2010 that then United chairman Graham Turner and vice chairman Joan Fennessy were ready to sell their majority shareholding in the club.

The club began negotiations with Carillion Richardson for the return of the leases almost as soon as the Keyte-Russon takeover was completed in June that year.

That deal was done by December with the club paying £452,000 to secure the return of the leases and settle a £1,069,500 debt to Richardsons Developments, clearing the way for a new single lease and the development opportunities that could bring.

The deal was intended to offer the club security for the next 30 years and ensure future re-entry to the Football League - which requires a 25-year secured tenancy.

It also opened up opportunities for grant funding for any future development - £400,000 in the Conference and £750,000 in the Football League.

The council was ready to allow an extension to the new stadium lease of 250 years once development at either end was underway, with proceeds from the sale of development areas held in a joint escrow account.

That money was intended for the construction of two new stands - one at each end of the ground - and modernisation work on the existing stadium.

Comments (6)

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3:14pm Thu 12 Jun 14

NOT CONVINCED says...

FAO Council. Do you want my vote - please consider your options. Will you fall for the promise to pay you like they have promised to pay the hard working staff. Even if you get your money, consider why they choose to pay you in preference - the gateway to making it impossible for anybody to run a football club from what will be left of the ground. Will the council for once be able to have the backbone to stand up for Hereford people
FAO Council. Do you want my vote - please consider your options. Will you fall for the promise to pay you like they have promised to pay the hard working staff. Even if you get your money, consider why they choose to pay you in preference - the gateway to making it impossible for anybody to run a football club from what will be left of the ground. Will the council for once be able to have the backbone to stand up for Hereford people NOT CONVINCED
  • Score: 21

3:56pm Thu 12 Jun 14

fmrbill says...

well if our carrot crunching councillors go about this like they did with Stanhope and the New old market and loss of 500,000 else the devloperes would move away then we are DOOMED and dammed for ever and a day. Please councillors or the secret cabinet in the council, please note these people will out wit you like every other bugger you isn't as clever as you think, and you also say you got no money to cut grass, collect bins so for go sake don't waste anymore of our money on legal fees for these people to pull out or stitch you up. Remember the last deal you involved in at club was the 100,000 investment for a mobile phone mast, but at last moment it feel through cos NOBODY THOUGHT ABOUT WHO WAS GOING TO PAY for the move of mast before you all sat and wined and dined at no doubt large expenses on our time. You are out ure depth big time always have been and always will be BLOODY USELESS. I wouldn't even trust you to turn up on the right day to collect my bins once a week/ fortnight like our present guys do without fail as your likely to bloody forget
well if our carrot crunching councillors go about this like they did with Stanhope and the New old market and loss of 500,000 else the devloperes would move away then we are DOOMED and dammed for ever and a day. Please councillors or the secret cabinet in the council, please note these people will out wit you like every other bugger you isn't as clever as you think, and you also say you got no money to cut grass, collect bins so for go sake don't waste anymore of our money on legal fees for these people to pull out or stitch you up. Remember the last deal you involved in at club was the 100,000 investment for a mobile phone mast, but at last moment it feel through cos NOBODY THOUGHT ABOUT WHO WAS GOING TO PAY for the move of mast before you all sat and wined and dined at no doubt large expenses on our time. You are out ure depth big time always have been and always will be BLOODY USELESS. I wouldn't even trust you to turn up on the right day to collect my bins once a week/ fortnight like our present guys do without fail as your likely to bloody forget fmrbill
  • Score: 10

4:44pm Thu 12 Jun 14

Steve Harris 1957 says...

I seriously feel there's a need to stand back here and look at what develops 'footballing' wise before signing any rights away. It's as if everyone has and is being held to ransom.

Reading the players statement, it would seem the players were pushed into staying/performing or risk not getting paid at all. Held to ransom!

On Friday, promises were made to the conference and lies told to the fan base and staff, the outcome was exceedingly worrying given those promises.

Today a member of the new 'staff' crawls out of the woodwork and tells the fans not to be negative combined with a dig at those on-line, the very same fans that had grouped together recently to save the club from 'winding up'.

Several fan groups have pointed out iffy connections with the new regime which at the very least, should be fully investigated.

Today it seems, the council (and by virtue, the tax payer) are being pushed into transferring leases. Surely for a 'footballing' man trying to save a "beautiful little club", the priority should be the actual football team? Seemingly not! As everyone has said along the way, they talk a good game but all the promises remain subject to their own terms. or so it would seem!!

I do sincerely hope, our council are not being held to ransom in any way..

Of course, it could all be a legitimate way of moving forward with the football as centre stage, looks (from the outside) can be deceptive.

The truth usually outs in the end, remember that.
I seriously feel there's a need to stand back here and look at what develops 'footballing' wise before signing any rights away. It's as if everyone has and is being held to ransom. Reading the players statement, it would seem the players were pushed into staying/performing or risk not getting paid at all. Held to ransom! On Friday, promises were made to the conference and lies told to the fan base and staff, the outcome was exceedingly worrying given those promises. Today a member of the new 'staff' crawls out of the woodwork and tells the fans not to be negative combined with a dig at those on-line, the very same fans that had grouped together recently to save the club from 'winding up'. Several fan groups have pointed out iffy connections with the new regime which at the very least, should be fully investigated. Today it seems, the council (and by virtue, the tax payer) are being pushed into transferring leases. Surely for a 'footballing' man trying to save a "beautiful little club", the priority should be the actual football team? Seemingly not! As everyone has said along the way, they talk a good game but all the promises remain subject to their own terms. or so it would seem!! I do sincerely hope, our council are not being held to ransom in any way.. Of course, it could all be a legitimate way of moving forward with the football as centre stage, looks (from the outside) can be deceptive. The truth usually outs in the end, remember that. Steve Harris 1957
  • Score: 14

7:36pm Thu 12 Jun 14

ian.robertson65@btinternet.com says...

Will Salisbury City be relegated? they have not met the deadline although they are appealing.
Will Salisbury City be relegated? they have not met the deadline although they are appealing. ian.robertson65@btinternet.com
  • Score: 5

5:36am Fri 13 Jun 14

B the B says...

He gave assurances to the Conference, the staff, players and fans, look what happened. He cannot be trusted I fear.
He gave assurances to the Conference, the staff, players and fans, look what happened. He cannot be trusted I fear. B the B
  • Score: 8

11:29am Fri 13 Jun 14

Herefordian07 says...

Let us hope that the club survives and flourishes otherwise I can see the day the football ground will be redeveloped and smothered in another concrete mess like the OLM. "Come on the Bulls" your devoted fans are behind you all the way.
Let us hope that the club survives and flourishes otherwise I can see the day the football ground will be redeveloped and smothered in another concrete mess like the OLM. "Come on the Bulls" your devoted fans are behind you all the way. Herefordian07
  • Score: 2

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