BURNLEY are bidding to reclaim ownership of Turf Moor and Gawthorpe, by setting up a holding company.
Clarets co-chairmen John Banaszkiewicz and Mike Garlick have enlisted the support from private investors in an effort to buy back their 130-year-old ground, and training base, which have been owned by Longside Properties Ltd since 2004.
As a result, shareholders are set to be invited to transfer their shares from Burnley Football & Athletic Company Ltd (BFAC) to the new parent company, Burnley FC Holdings Ltd (BFCH), on a one-for-one swap basis as part of a restructure required under the terms of the financial regulatory authority.
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 the driving force behind 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 we have all seen hit other clubs very hard in recent years.”
Turf Moor was rented on a 99-year lease following a sale in 2004 to Longside Properties, of which then chairman Barry Kilby was a founding director. That deal was said to be worth close to £4m.
Longside Properties is now owned by Lionbridge, a company which is registered in the British Virgin Islands.
In order to protect the long-term security of the club and its assets, Burnley now plan 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.
A number of supporters have already pledged significant six-figure sums to this bond, in order to meet the asking price for Turf Moor and Gawthorpe, which is thought to be only a fraction over the fee it was originally sold for nine years ago.
Banaszkiewicz added: “Having examined all the options, the board is confident that 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.
- See tomorrow's LT for more on this story.