This compares extremely favourably to the current situation at Edgar Street where Herefordshire Council, as recently as last April, signed off a new 10-year lease on the Bulls’ stadium. Hereford FC hope this security of tenure until 2030 will enable the club to proceed with plans to return the ground to a four-sided stadium.
However, in Aldershot’s case their council accept that redeveloping the Recreation Ground provides significant benefit to the club and community and far outweighs the substantial financial risk of the council taking ownership of the site long term.
The existing lease expires in May 2023 and the football club is currently paying £25,000 a year rent, although in recent years it has received some rent and business rate relief. The new lease will only start on the grant of planning permission, with a peppercorn rent of just £1 a year, but the football club would still be fully liable for any repairs and maintenance costs. Until planning consent is secured, the £25,000-a-year rent will remain payable.
The ground, which occupies a prime site in the High Street, was opened in 1926 and has changed little since construction 90 years ago. Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet was told that the club was faced with a decaying ground with mounting repair obligations, however the pitch is considered high quality and is also used by Chelsea FC.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Major Projects and Property, Councillor Martin Tennant, said: “Granting the football club a long lease makes complete sense – it gives them a chance to raise the funds they need to modernise their stadium. For the council, it means that we don’t have to incur any significant financial cost to maintain and repair this extensive area of land.
“A successful football club in a fit-for-purpose stadium would be great for supporters and for Aldershot as a town, so we hope this move gives them the security they need to build for the future.”
Aldershot Town chairman Shahid Azeem, said: “It’s fantastic news. We’ve been working hard with the council the last six to seven years to make sure we had developments in place to make the football club sustainable.
“This is a great opportunity to build a sustainable stadium that will create revenue, create jobs and become a hub of the community”.
Some positive news surrounding future funding and joint development proposals from Herefordshire Council and Hereford Football Club would be welcomed by Bulls fans.
Images: Aldershot Town FC.