GROUND leases don’t need to delay a “phoenix club” if Hereford United are liquidated next week, Herefordshire Council has been told.
The business group backing a phoenix club met with Herefordshire Council leader Tony Johnson this morning (Tues).
Cllr Johnson was told that should the worst happen the phoenix backers would be willing to take a one single lease at Edgar Street on the area currently covered by three separate leases – allowing the council to take responsibility for developing both ends of the ground subject to negotiation.
The group has put together a detailed business plan to launch a phoenix club at Edgar Street should Hereford United (1939) Limited be liquidated.
The group first met with the council in June.
Group spokesman John Hale, director of Malvern-based polythene packaging manufacturer Hadopots Ltd, said a second meeting served to emphasise the group as a “serious and viable alternative option” for Herefordshire Council should the opportunity arise.
"It was important to once again state categorically that our business plan is all about ensuring there is a long term future for football at Edgar Street,” said Mr Hale.
"With that in mind, we have told Mr Johnson that, should the worst case scenario occur and the current club fold, we would initially be willing to take on one, single lease at Edgar Street on the area currently covered by three separate leases. This would enable the Council to take responsibility for the development of the two ends subject to negotiation. "
"We are willing to do this to make it absolutely clear that our proposals are centred on building a successful football club and are in no way about making money for personal benefit as we have seen suggested in certain quarters.
"We have also reassured Mr Johnson that the investors we already have in place expect no return on the significant investment they're willing to offer a phoenix club and therefore they are more than comfortable for us to agree to a variation of the current leases,” he said.
Mr Hale joins accountant Phil Eynon, Richard Howard, a former chairman of the Hereford United Vice Presidents Club, chartered surveyor Phil Pratt, from Alder King Commercial Property Consultants, and Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) chairman Chris Williams in the bid for a phoenix club.
The group already has £150,000 underwritten to see the new club through the initial formation stages and is confident it can play at Edgar Street.
Those present as this morning’s meeting were Cllr Johnson, Mr Hale, Mr Eynon, Mr Pratt and HUST Board member Richard Howard.
In a statement, the council confirmed that the group’s business plan had been discussed, but stressed that it was not “actively looking” for a new tenant because a tenant was already in place.
The statement said: “In the event that our current tenant is unable to continue operating, the council would need to go through a due process before making any confirmed decision on the future of the ground and its leases."
Hereford United are due back at the High Court for a winding up hearing next Monday (september 1).