With Aston Villa currently on a downward slump due to the incompetence of the Villa board, there’s no saying where the rot will stop. One cause of action by supporters is to make Villa Park a ‘Asset of Community Value‘.
This means should the current or any future owners decide to sell Villa Park stadium and its surrounding grounds (such as the carpark or clubshop), it would give the Aston Villa Supporters Trust (or another relevant community body) a six-month period in which they could pause the sale and raise the funds for its purchase.
While at the moment it is mainly a symbolic gesture for Villa supporters, it provides a layer of transparency for supporters on the club’s movements. If Villa were to go into further turmoil and get relegated from the Championship, it may become more relevant.
It’s no coincidence that supporters at clubs that have seen the tradition of their club threatened by its owners, such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle, have already successfully applied and had their respective stadiums made a ‘Asset Of Community Value’.
So, considering what is going on at Aston Villa, why hasn’t the Aston Villa Supporter’s Trust followed suit? Especially considering St Andrews has been successfully listed by the Blues Trust.
Well, several months ago I tabled the motion to the AVST to apply for it, so it was done before the AVST AGM this year. There were several things that the AVST needed to sort out first, but after a brief initial discussion, I then received no response to my repeated reminder emails from the AVST board about it.
As it became publicly apparent at the last AVST AGM, unbeknown to other members of the AVST board, the AVST chairman Peter Warrilow had taken the liberty of telling Villa CEO Tom Fox about the AVST’s plans regarding making Villa Park an Asset of Community Value.
As I publicly told Peter at the AVST AGM, it ultimately has nothing to do with the club whether we as supporters apply to list Villa Park as an Asset of Community Value.
In fact, in the past clubs have tried to appeal against stadiums being listed as assets of community value by supporters as in the case of the Glazers consideration to block the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST).
MUST had even taken pro bono advice from top UK law firms in case the Glazers didn’t drop their proposed appeal. Oxford United supporter’s Trust OxVox also saw their club’s owners unsuccessfully trying to fight it.
In short, it’s a safeguard for supporters, so they’ll never have to wake up in the morning to hear Villa Park is being sold without any recourse. A community interest group (normally a supporters trust) then has six weeks to ask to be treated as a potential bidder. If it does, the sale cannot take place for six months.
Known as the moratorium, this period allows the group to come up with an alternative proposal – although at the end of this period it is up to the owner whether a sale goes though, to whom and for how much.
Now that the AVST have taken care of some formalities, myself and other member of the AVST are taking care of the application, which hopefully will be completed in the Spring of this year. UTV
What is an Asset of Community Value (ACV)?
- A building, or other land, is an asset of community value if its main use is, or has recently been, to “further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community” and it could do so in the future.
- The request must come from a voluntary or community body with a local connection and relate to land in the local authority’s area, or in the neighbouring local authority’s area.
- The listing lasts for five years and also includes should the stadium be put up for sale, a ‘right to bid’, which can be lodged by the group concerned within a period of six weeks, with finance secured in a period of up to four-and-a-half months.
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