Cambridge United of the Blue Square Premier face a battle to save their home, The Abbey Stadium. They have asked us to post this on here to highlight their current position and we are only too happy to do so.
Getting on the property ladder is a difficult business these days, but fans of Blue Square Premier league outfit Cambridge United have unveiled an ambitious plan to buy their club a home to call their own. United, who are currently 16th in the Blue Square Premier, have been in rented accommodation since 2004, when they sold and leased back their Abbey Stadium ground to Bideawhile, a company co-owned by then director John Howard and his business partner Stephen Clark, both of whom are property developers by trade.
At the time the cash was needed to stave off administration, but six years on the £240,000 annual rent is beginning to weigh heavily on the club. Earlier this month it was announced that Bideawhile had agreed to sell the Abbey to another property firm, Grovesnor Estates, and due to a clause in the original sale agreement they are obliged to offer the club the chance to buy back their home of 78 years, if they can match the £3.5million asking price.
The only snag is that cash-strapped United have to come up with the money by March 24. Undeterred by such stringent conditions, supporters trust Cambridge Fans United (CFU) have launched a scheme which would see the stadium held in a secure Community Interest Company, to protect it from again falling into the hands of those who would like to unlock the value of a prime piece of Cambridge real estate.
The fans trust is looking to sell 3,500 shares at £1,000 a pop. Anyone putting up the cash would receive a return on their investment, with the club still paying a rent to use the ground, albeit a significantly lower one than the crippling amount they currently pay out to Howard and Clark. CFU Chairman Dave Matthews Jones said: “The cost of not having control of our own ground isn’t just a financial one; it means the whole community loses out as we can’t provide the sporting hub that our town so desperately deserves.”
Indeed, with Southern Premier outfit Cambridge City having sold their Milton Road home for housing, the Abbey will soon be the only large sports stadium in the city. Raising £3.5million in such a short space of time is a tall order, but if CFU can harness support from some of the multi-million pound companies which lurk around the outskirts of Cambridge, then United fans may soon be celebrating their stadium “coming home”.