The Argyle Fans’ Trust are delighted that Plymouth City Council have approved our application to list the land and buildings at Home Park as an Asset of Community Value.
ACV status, which lasts for five years, means that should the current owner want to sell, they must notify their intent, triggering a six week window for a community group to express an interest in bidding. If taken up, this gives the group six months in which to submit a bid of their own. It doesn’t mean the seller has to sell to that group, but it at least gives the group time to put a bid together.
At present, Home Park is in public hands with the Council, and last year’s fan survey showed that over 80% of Argyle supporters would like it to stay that way, with even higher levels of support for an ACV submission.
While it would be a big ask for supporters to raise funds to put in a counter-bid to any sale of Home Park, ACV status would at the very least make any potential sale far more transparent than it otherwise may have been, and buy some time for open debate about that sale.
As part of the club’s current stadium lease with the Council, James Brent has an option to buy Home Park for twelve times the current rent every five years. A sale to James Brent may not alarm most supporters, but once the stadium is out of public hands, there is no guarantee who may eventually become the owner, what their plans for the stadium may be, or how much they might charge the club for its use.
We now join over 20 other football grounds around the country, including Anfield, Old Trafford, Turf Moor, Plainmoor and St. James’ Park (Newcastle) in being awarded ACV status. In making his decision, the council’s Chief Legal Officer cited another case in Oxford where a tribunal judge argued that the existence of a home town football club, intrinsically linked to the use of its home ground fosters community pride; stimulates daily conversations in, for instance, pubs, work places, local media and social media; forges friendships and encourages the mix of generations.
The AFT would like to record its gratitude to Mr Brent for saving our club from near liquidation and in no way question his aims, intentions or purpose. Our aim however is to ensure that there will always be a football club for future Argyle fans to support.