Kleanthous & Barnet FC vs The Local Council

Ian

Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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19 Responses

  1. Neil says:

    Really interesting piece (few typos though!). Excuse my ignorance but is redeveloping Underhill out of the question?

  2. Ian says:

    Typos corrected, Neil (most of them, anyway – the majority of this was typed on my mobile phone, which explains that). On the subject of Underhill, the biggest problems that I can think of are access and space. The ground is more or less surrounded by roads and houses on three sides, and South Underhill – immediately to the south of the ground is green belt land. Add in the Underhill slope, and the reasons for the club wanting to leave it are understandable. I am inclined – if you’ll pardon the pun – to think that they will resent a move away from their at leisure, though.

  3. Having lived in Barnet from 1993 until last month, I am not at all surprised as it’s hard to imagine a more inactive and yet obstructive local council. Seeing Claremont Road lying derelict is a real pity and the battle between Kleanthous and the council over Underhill has been a long one now. As an aside, I once took part in an athletics meet at Copthall – plenty of room there and still nearby although like Don Valley, Gateshead and others, not suitable for footy as it is.

  4. Micky Bananas says:

    Good piece Ian!
    Regarding Underhill, my reading of the situation is that BFC don’t really want to move out (why would they?), however, the stadium does not meet current grading requirements, mainly due to the slope of the pitch. TK has managed to stave this off for the time being (being head of the FA grading committee does have it’s advantages after all…hmmm…), so as long as they don’t get religated the issue is on the back burner.
    However, should they drop down into the BSP then the ground would have to be regraded by the FA to meet Grade A standards, something that is impossible with the pitch as it is. As all the pitch side facilities (stands/terraces etc) have been built to meet the side of the pitch as it is today, it makes it nigh on impossible due to cost to level the surface to meet grade A standards. The only other alternative would be to completely rebuild the stadium from the ground up to match a level playing surface, which would be totally out of the budget of BFC, especially as they would still need a ground to play at (as you stated, a groundshare…where?) in the interim period. Even that would not be a good solution considering the restraints placed upon access to Underhill by the council, so even if they were to do it, it would be unwise in the long term to do so.
    The obvious solution would be for TK to sell the site for redevelopment and seek a new site to build a ground upon to secure the long term future of the club. Copthall was ideal, but as stated, they’ve been gazumped here. Therefore, you have to look a little further afield to find an alternative, and with the development of PEPF you probably have hit the nail on the head.
    When the original design was submitted (and planning permission granted) for the devlopment of the site at Canons Park, the stadium facility was to be “of Conference National Standard” as this was envisaged all that would be needed in the medium term for a club of the status of Wealdstone FC at the time. When the original project hit the rails (as has been explained many times in the past) and BFC managed to swipe the site from under the noses of WFC a new set of planning was submitted which included the stadium capacity to be greatly increased. One might ask why TK would want to spend money on increasing the size for no reason, on a facility that didn’t need it, that Barnet were not going to be able to use nor gain any extra revenue from. The obvious explaination (and you don’t need to be a cynical Wealdstone fan or conspiracy theorist to come to the conclusion) was that he saw the stadium as the perfect (perhaps the only) viable alternative to the situation that BFC find themselves in now.
    The only question remaining though is how can Barnet move into PEPF when the planning permission explicitly says that the stadium can only be used by Wealdstone? Hmmm…now there is the $64,000 question…
    It is interesting to note at this point, that one of the first clauses in the granted planning permission was that the site could not be opened for business until all phases of construction were complete. This seems to have been “convieniently forgotton about” by the looks of things as the stadium is still on the whole derilict and untouched since construction was restarted, yet the money making parts of the site (3G pitches for example) have been finished and are now open to make money.
    The whole situation with PEPF and the treatment of Wealdstone FC by TK is something that understandably sticks in the throat of all Stones fans, and it seems as if the “poor relations” of BFC are being given the pointy end of the stick once again. The fact that TK continually acts the victim of the treatment that BFC are getting from Barnet Council whilst on the other hand seems to be happy to steamroller another local club for his own benefit is two faced at the least, yet alone immoral in the eyes of the common football supporter.
    This whole sordid affair deserves to be in the public domain, instead of being brushed under the carper by TK. To him, WFC are little more than a spot that needs to be occassionally scratched, or totally ignored for as long as he can. It is blatently obvious that he has plans to move BFC to PEPF, but for that to happen he needs WFC out of the way. To him the ideal scenario is the death of Wealdstone, allowing him free reign to move BFC in without needing to spend a penny. He has made WFC an “monitary offer” for them to give up the sole right to use the stadium, but this figure was derisory considering how much WFC had already invested there, the fact that they still have FF grants outstanding for the site (which won’t be realised until the stadium is complete, therefore constraining WFC from applying for any more funding to improve their current facilties at Grosvenor Vale), and that it would mean WFC giving up their “birth right” for a decent BSP standard stadium.
    There is milage in this story Ian, perhaps you should consider doing an expose on it in a future article…

  5. SW19 Womble says:

    Local council lifts covenant on football stadium? Well I never!
    You’d think these bureaucratic bozos would have learned a little from Wimbledon FC and the Plough Lane fiasco.
    Or maybe not.
    Strange also how neighbouring councils seem more positive and proactive about someone else’s “cherished community asset” too…

  6. Graham says:

    All I can say is spot on Micky Bananas. Absolutely. TK is hard done by in some quarters and yet happy to exploit another club to his own ends. Can’t have it both ways Mr K. Well you can try but Wealdstone FC aren’t going away.

  7. Nick DuGard says:

    The real story behind the development of Prince Edward Playing Fields, now known as the Hive is one of the great hidden scandals within the world of Football Politics but which is a soul destroying tale of hopes and dreams dashed. Pragmatism and a history of diasters has possibly made Wealdstone people almost immune to massive kicks in the nuts like this but as time goes on less people seem to understand or care about what should be Wealdstone’s legacy. A Legacy for 10 years of blood, sweat, political lobbying by the bucket load and hundreds of thousands of pounds expended….only to hand a half built stadium over on a plate to another football club FOR NOTHING and who cant or dont recognise how they got to get into the ‘The Hive’ in the first place. Shocking!

  8. Sean says:

    Ah, Mr Kleanthous the property developer, who would have to pay Barnet council 60% of the fee for selling the Underhill land for development unless it was shown that the council forced the club out of the area, and has spent several years going on about how the council are trying to force the club out of the area. He’s played a blinder so far.

  9. Micky Bananas says:

    perhaps a good point to add this…
    http://www.bfcsa.co.uk/0910/articles/tk_interview_2.htm
    an interview with the aforementioned Chairman wherein he basically says he intends to move BFC to PEPF, yet not one mention of Wealdstone anywhere.
    Can only whole heartedly agree with the comments of Mr DuGard, he was instrumental in the original project at PEPF and is more qualified than anybody else to pass comment upon it.
    It is an utter disgrace the way WFC have been treated in this whole affair, what goes around comes around, and sadly I have to admit I cannot wait to see TK fall flat on his face and get his comeuppance. It is unfortunate that this may result in BFC finding themselves in the same situation that WFC was in 20 odd years ago. Only then perhaps will their supporters realise why we continue to fight this situation with all our hearts.
    One would hope that the Bees fans will learn from the mistakes that Stones fans made in trusting what appeared to be “honourable” men that were running our club, and don’t allow their real home to be pulled out from underneath them without so much as a whimper.
    If TK thinks he can just walk into PEPF without a fight, then I believe he seriously underestimates the feelings of WFC supporters on the subject, and should prepare himself for a very rough ride if he tries…

  10. Seagie says:

    I’ve not seen this anywhere but would a Barnet / Wealdstone grounshare at The Hive not be an option?

  11. Dave H says:

    I’m a Barnet fan who lives close to Wealdstone’s current base in Ruislip. I’d have thought a groundshare between Barnet & Wealdstone would make perfect sense. However one of the things that probably needs to stop to give this a chance of happening is the sanctimonious Barnet bashing by Wealdstone’s supporters ! As I understand it, Wealdstone’s planned development of PEPF went belly up when their commercial partner went bust. This left Harrow Council with a half built facility and no funds to complete it. Wealdstone never moved in or played a game at the site. Barnet stepped in and provided/accessed the funds to complete the project.

    Wealdstone currently play at Grosvenor Vale in Ruislip, a ground that previously, for a large number of years, accommodated Ruislip Manor FC. Again, as I understand it, the ground was owned by Ruislip Manor Sports and Social Club who leased the stadium to the football club. The Sports and Social Club went bust, Wealdstone stepped in and bought it and kicked Ruislip Manor FC out.

    If I’m factually inaccurate please correct me.If not, how about we accept that football clubs are competitive businesses that will generally do whatever is best for themselves.

  12. Bob says:

    Not quite factually correct Dave, as is reported in the link from this site, RMFC were on the verge of going pop, indeed Wealdstone Directors took on all the debts that were left behind by a combination of RMSSC and RMFC

    http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?tag=wealdstone

  13. Dave H says:

    Thanks for the correction. However Wealdstone then took over the ground for their own use ? They may have offered Ruislip Manor FC some terms to stay on for all I know. If they did, they clearly weren’t acceptable to RM FC as they left. Pretty much the same situation as Barnet and Wealdstone at PEPF/ The Hive ?

  14. Bob says:

    I don’t think the situation was anything like the current PEPF debate.

    RMFC were on the verge of folding before WFC were in the picture. As far as I’m led to believe there had been a lot of in fighting going on in the Boardroom at RMFC as the money ran out.
    Indeed RMFC asked WFC if they could pay the officials for the remaining games of the season to enable them to complete their fixtures. All the players also left as they were unable to pay them, and they ended up finishing the season with Youth players turning out.

  15. Dave H says:

    So Wealdstone came upon a situation where another club had fallen on hard times and did not have the funds to keep their ground. They (perfectly understandably) decided that this wasn’t their problem and took advantage of the situation to secure themselves a home ?

    I’m not blaming Wealdstone for doing so and I do sympathise with their misfortune over PEPF, but I really don’t see how Barnet have any obligation to Wealdstone or should feel guilty about stepping in and taking over The Hive. There is, in my eyes, no moral difference between the two situations.

    Harrow Council may have let Wealdstone down but Barnet haven’t acted any more selfishly over PEPF than Wealdstone did over Grosvenor Vale.

    As I said from my first post I’d have thought a groundshare at the Hive would make a huge amount of sense for Barnet (It would reduce overheads and/or increase revenue). In all honesty I’m less convinced it now makes as much sense for Wealdstone. They have done a a lot of excellent work to put down roots in Ruislip. I doubt there are many lost fans in central Harrow who will suddenly reappear again if the club is aabout a mile closer.

    If Wealdstone really do want to move to The Hive (Rather than just trying to get some compensation from someone)I think both sets of supporters need to start finding common cause rather than finger pointing and name calling.

  16. Bob says:

    Totally agree about finding a way forward, but a groundshare is a non starter from a WFC point of view, s other than gate receipts then they would have no source of income coming in to the Club.

    The fact that Barnet have moved in and taken over the site isn’t really the issue, as the land belongs to the council and as such it’s down to them to secure the best future for it.

    The main sticking point is that WFC have invested something in the region of £250k in the site, which includes the stands that currently sit on the stadium piece of land. Despite the fact that the building company went in to liquidation, technically the ground still belongs to WFC as they havent given up their rights on it.

    I think that is the main area of concern.

  17. CamRob says:

    Up to the point Wealdstones investors pulled out, £5 million had been spent on the site. £3 million from investment companies who will never see a return or their money back, £1.8 million of grants and public money that was slowly disappearing as the site reverted back to wasteland and £300k from Wealdstone supporters. Wealdstones Chairman at the time said the cost of the project had risen from £4 million to £9.5 million and that when investors walked away the project was 60% complete.

    When Barnet took over the site the costing was that a further £8 million would be required to complete the project and at the point the training complex was opened the total spend stood at £11 million.

    Sounds to me like when Wealdstone took on this project they completely underestimated what was required and ended up in the same position as Hayes and Yeading are currently in. I suspect the real issue now is Wealdstone trying to use the Hive as leverage against their current Landlords to obtain the best deal possible in their lease negotiations. Once Wealdstone lost ownership of the site it was always going to be the case that they would struggle to make playing at the Hive financially viable without having access to the off field revenue the site produces.

  1. December 15, 2011

    […] the latest instalment in Barnet Football Club’s fractious relationship with its local council at the beginning of last month, but the timing of the resurfacing of this issue and the question of if or why the council is […]

  2. January 6, 2012

    […] Barnet indicated that they would be leaving Underhill at the end of the current season, following a long-running dispute between chairman Tony Kleanthous and the Tory overlords of Barnet Council. However, it remains […]

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