This blog is a guest blog on behalf of Barnet FC. Mr Mustard's neighbour is a keen supporter of Barnet FC and suggested this as a guest blog. It first appeared on the Barnet FC website, here.
The directors of the Football League will consider next week if Barnet FC can start (but possibly not complete) next season at Underhill, giving them additional time to explore if need be options including possible relocation.
Group director Graham Slyper, a chartered surveyor and property adviser to the board, said today: "The situation is serious and not of our doing. The stark reality is that as a consequence of unresolved ground differences with the council, Barnet FC face the prospect of a reduced footprint next season and an end to their 100 plus years residence of their spiritual home".
These are the main issues:-
For decades Barnet supporters have used Priory Grove, which runs alongside the East Terrace at Underhill, to get to the turnstiles and Durham Suite at the southern end of the ground by foot and by car.
Now Barnet Council are claiming that Barnet FC has no right of vehicular access and is looking to licence the club for the privilege of using the road subject to the unworkable caveat of the public being precluded from using this route for access to the stadium.
Not so the St John Ambulance and the Scouts, who can continue to use Priory Grove as they wish!
CRICKET CLUB LEASE
The 30-year lease of the cricket club expires in December 2012 and contains an Option for us to apply for an extension to a term of 125 years at a peppercorn rental on payment of a premium.
As a consequence of that lease ownership, the club has extended the stadium footprint southwards which, when combined with the route down Priory Grove, has enabled us to provide emergency and private vehicular access and car parking to the southern end of the ground.
What is not generally appreciated is that the car park and access is on cricket club, not football club, land. There is further access for emergency vehicles over the cricket club site via the gates from Barnet Lane.
The council have been insistent on basing the premium required for this lease on a valuation undertaken for them before the current downturn in property values. Eventually, last March, the council were persuaded to commission a new (updated) valuation. That surveyor issued his
Determination early last June (six months ago) and, notwithstanding continual requests and an application under of Freedom of Information Act, they still refuse to let us see a copy.
In the meantime that same council, with extreme haste, have agreed that Saracens, having no previous connection with the Borough, can be offered a 125 year lease of Copthall for no payment whatsoever.
After further pressure the council, who still refuse to negotiate this valuation, have offered us instead a 15 year lease at a market rent. The amount of investment necessary if the club is to remain at Underhill cannot be justified unless we have the security of the longer term lease to which we are entitled.
Staying at Underhill may not be a permanent solution but, presently, it remains the only available option. Unfortunately the continuing opposition of the council precludes even that. "It seems to me that they want us out", said Graham Slyper.
There doesn't seem to be any end to the number of residents that the council want to upset.