Wrexham Football Club are set to sign a 99 year lease with Wrexham Glyndwr University for the Racecourse ground, in effect returning the ground to the club.
The new lease has been agreed in principle between the club and the university, and will be subject to the club owners agreement (fans themselves) at a forthcoming ‘special general meeting’. Currently the club only has a licence to play games at the ground, forgoing the extra revenue and control of the ground.
Wrexham Glyndwr University, who are the current custodians of the ground, will remain as landlords and retain the freehold however with a 99 year lease containing large elements of delegated responsibilities they are effectively handing the keys back to the club along with operational control.
Professor Graham Upton, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndŵr University, said: “The University and Wrexham FC have enjoyed a close relationship for many years and both organisations felt the time was right for the club to regain operational control of the stadium.
“Wrexham Glyndŵr University will remain freeholders but Wrexham FC will now be able to capitalise on conferencing, catering and event opportunities, as well as being responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the ground.
“As a university at the heart of the community we want to see Wrexham FC thrive and grow, both on and off the pitch. This will give them the chance to do so, as they themselves look forward with more certainty having recently announced the club is in a healthier financial position.
“The University stepped-in and purchased the stadium in 2011 at a time when its future was uncertain, knowing its importance to the people of north east Wales and beyond.
“We will continue to work side-by-side for the benefit of the town, from a sporting, academic and social perspective, and wish Wrexham FC the best of luck with the rest of the season.”
Gavin Jones, from Wrexham Supporters Trust, added: “After the successful financial turnaround of the football club, the board of the Wrexham Supporters Trust felt it was the right time to reacquire the stadium on a 99-year lease subject to its members’ approval.
“This is another step in securing the club and its historical home in the hands of its supporters for generations to come.
“The deal will be subject to the approval of WST’s members and formal notice of a Special General Meeting (SGM) is currently being prepared. The SGM is to be held during the week after Easter to approve the transaction. This is another exciting chapter in our history.”
The notes given to Wrexham.com on the lease state the lease is for 99 years, the university retains ownership of the stadium (freeholders).
Consultation is underway with staff working at the stadium, with a view to them moving over to Wrexham FC.
The Centenary Club will still be the Students’ Guild bar, and the deal does not include the Colliers Park Training Ground.
The club previously had a long term lease secured in the late 90’s from Marstons, however when former owner Pryce Griffths decided to sell up to property developers in the early 2000’s the process to separate the ground and training ground as an asset and the club began.
Periods of terrible stewardship continued to the point where the club was split from its ground and carpark with a partially completed student development built – with the ‘gamble‘ of profits going to the club failing.
The ground was purchased by Glyndwr University in August 2011, in a move that is thought by many to have helped secure what remained of the facility as the club was left in a financial mess by then owners Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts. The club was subsequently sold to the Wrexham Supporters Trust for a token £1 along with the responsibility of the debt. The car park and sections of land to the south of the ground have been split from the freehold of the stadium itself, with the plots behind the Kop on to Crispin Lane have been recently listed for sale.
Today’s news follows the announcement a few weeks ago of the now fans run Wrexham Football Club announcing its first net profit while being fans run, and the first for over 15 years.
There has been much talk about such a move generating opportunity for future grants and partnerships, and Wrexham.com looks forward to documenting on the many promises being fulfilled.