Cambridge United has completed the purchase of the Abbey Stadium from Grosvenor.
A further £4.5m of equity has been invested by the existing owners, the majority of which has been used to fund the purchase and meet associated costs and expenses.
The purchase includes the Abbey Stadium footprint, the current Thrifty car hire site at the front of the ground together with the bungalow on the front right.
Cambridge United’s strong relationship with Grosvenor will continue this season with the Community Trust’s award-winning schools initiative now called the ‘Grosvenor Mind Your Head’ mental health programme.
Paul Barry, majority owner of Cambridge United said, “20 years ago Cambridge United had to sell the Abbey Stadium just to survive. It was a low point followed by tireless work from countless people to keep the Club afloat whilst at the same time trying to find a new home elsewhere in the City. But deep down we always knew that, if we had the choice and the chance, we would want to stay at the Abbey with all its charm, memories and imperfections. Today I am proud to say that Cambridge United once again owns the Abbey Stadium.
“There are numerous people to thank. First and foremost, Grosvenor who have been both the best landlord the Club could have wished for and the most genuine supporter of the football club in the truest sense of the word.
“They will always be our valued friends and always welcome at the Abbey. We are very pleased that their relationship with the Club will continue this season through the ‘Mind Your Head’ Community Trust mental health programme, an issue which is important to all of us.
“This deal could not have happened without the support of my co-owners Mark and Adam, both of whom, in a very short period of time, have become such a valued and important part of Cambridge United. Thank you as well to the Board and staff for all their hard work on this project over many years behind the scenes – and finally to our fans for their support and belief, particularly during the very tough times. To get to this point we have truly been one team – United in Endeavour.
“We all know that the ground requires significant modernisation and improvement. We will be looking at potential ways forward over the coming months but just to manage expectations, it will clearly take time and money. Self-evidently, we have had to commit significant investment for this deal alongside our other immediate priority of improving the training facilities at Clare College during the next close season.
“That said we are all ambitious to move forward as quickly as we can. We will be as open and transparent as we can be on any future plans and we also look forward to working with the new Shadow Board on the Golden Share protections for the ground, once the Board has been established in the coming weeks. Whatever we decide we know we will need our fans’ support.
“Finally I hope as many of you as possible will be able to come to the game tomorrow at the Abbey Stadium, now once again proudly owned by Cambridge United.”
Mark Green and Adam Webb, co-owners of Cambridge United, added, “Becoming part owners of Cambridge United has been a genuine privilege and joy. We have fallen in love with the Club, the team and the City. In particular, we love watching games at the Abbey – either from the Main Stand or behind the goal in the Newmarket Road End.
“It is such a special unique place and we are so pleased to be able to play our part in helping Cambridge United own its home once again and look forward to the memories and moments that will be created in the future.”
James Cochrane of Grosvenor said; “We are delighted to be returning the stadium back to a resurgent Cambridge United. The club is in a much stronger position today than in 2010, on the field, commercially and as a major contributor to the community. Playing a role in this success has been incredibly rewarding and we wish them luck in the season ahead.
“It is fantastic to be able to continue our partnership through our support of the club’s ‘Mind Your Head’ programme. Supporting young people to develop their mental health literacy is a cause close to our hearts.”
In March the Club announced its intended ‘Golden Share’ protection for the Stadium – in line with the recent Fan Led Review – to ensure that Cambridge United could only move from the Abbey site with consent if at some point in the future a new location were to be considered.
The detail of this will be worked on during the next year alongside the creation of a new Shadow Board. A Working Group comprising representatives from the Club and the different fan groups has met six times over the close season and more details on the Shadow Board will follow shortly.
Image source: Cambridge United
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