BURNLEY are set to buy back Turf Moor and Gawthorpe.
The club’s ground - home for 130 years - and Padiham-based training ground have been owned by Longside Properties Ltd since 2006.
However, the board of directors plan a bond issue to return the assets to ownership of a revamped Burnley FC group. And the club feel the move will help improve the infrastructure moving forward, and be a benefit on and off the pitch.
Burnley co-chairmen John Banaszkiewicz and Mike Garlick confirmed that, after inviting support from private investors, the board believes it can generate sufficient funds to buy back the club’s “spiritual home”.
After completing a proposed restructuring, it is proposed to repurchase these assets from the current owner via a new property company, Turf Moor Properties Ltd.
This new property company will be owned by a new holding company named Burnley FC Holdings Ltd, which is also making a recommended offer to acquire all of the issued shares in The Burnley Football & Athletic Co. Ltd.
Shareholders in The Burnley Football & Athletic Co. Ltd will be invited to exchange their share or shares for the same number of shares in Burnley FC Holdings Ltd.
Once the bond issue is completed, shareholders who accept the offer will then own shares in the company which owns both the football company and the property company.
Banaszkiewicz, who has been instrumental in driving forward the plan, said: “We are delighted to be announcing this first step in the repurchase of Turf Moor and Gawthorpe, which marks the start of a new era in our illustrious history.
“This arrangement enables us to protect Turf Moor and Gawthorpe from the uncertainties of the football industry and its finances, which have hit other clubs very hard in recent years.”
The club plans to issue a bond - fully secured against the properties and paid back over seven years with interest - to bring the assets back under the umbrella of the club’s new group.
Indicative interest in the bond issue has been received from a selected number of Burnley Football Club supporters, each of whom will contribute a significant six figure sum.
Banaszkiewicz added: “Having examined all the options, the board is confident a bond issue represents the most cost effective finance option and enables a section of our fans to play a part in bringing our spiritual home back under the control of the club.
“In football today, it is important to maintain a progressive approach to training and development of players.
“This includes having a quality infrastructure, and by re-acquiring the stadium and the training ground, we can ensure that we continue on the path to constant improvement.
“Additionally, buying both Turf Moor and Gawthorpe back makes sense financially and operationally for our long-term future plans.
“It will eventually see an end to rental payments and put the club on a firmer financial footing”
The planning and development of the bond issue has been undertaken with support from FIS Chief Financial Officer Paul Smith and Burnley Football Club employees Ken Stout and Anthony Fairclough, whom the Co-Chairmen thanked for their hard work on the project.
Banaszkiewicz insists it was a priority upon himself and Garlick taking over the reins last year: “It was on the agenda as soon as our chairmanship began - it makes economic and operational sense to own the ground and training ground again.
“It’s a big thing for us to restructure the group - we’ve not had a change since it started - we have a share certificate from 1897.
“It’s really good news - the club sold the assets in 2006 after the collapse of ITV Digital with the debts the club had, sold to an external party, but once we own them again, we don’t need permission to make improvements, which costs money, while we will ultimately save on rent payments, so it’s quite an astute plan.”
Banaszkiewicz was involved in the revamp of the facilities at Gawthorpe in 2011, and there will be further upgrades to follow, although improvements at Turf Moor are not imminent: “The players are spending more time at Gawthorpe, and in terms of attracting players, it is an advantage to have good training facilities and a good infrastructure.
“We’ve invested a lot in that already - we had to, it was like going back to Victorian times almost!
“Stockport County had better training facilities, but now we will hopefully be able to continue to upgrade and fine-tune the facilities, both at Gawthorpe and Turf Moor in line with the EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan), as we look towards making grade two status in the future.”