Stockport County has agreed a 250-year lease for Edgeley Park as the club considers a return to football.
The Hatters currently have a 25-year lease with the council, which acquired full ownership of the land in 2015.
After being taken over by Mark Stott in January 2020, the club created a seven-year vision to bring Stockport County back to Championship level – the second tier of English professional football.
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They are currently top of the National League and look set to return to the English Football League for the first time since 2011.
Mr Stott has already made substantial investments at Edgeley Park, particularly in the main stand at Cheadle End.
The ground’s much-improved commercial facilities are a key source of revenue for the club.
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But having a relatively short-term lease can inhibit investment and the ability to raise funds – even when the landlord is the local council.
So, to support the Hatters’ ambitions, the club and the town hall have agreed the terms of a long-term £2.1 million lease of Edgeley Park to Stockport County 2010 Ltd – the entity owning the land controlled by the soccer club.
The 250-year agreement is expected to be signed by town hall leaders at a cabinet meeting on March 15.
Jonathan Vaughan, CEO of Stockport County Football Club, said the club were “delighted” to have secured the long-term lease of Edgeley Park.
He said: “Over the past two years there have been significant investments in the infrastructure of the club, re-engaging the fans and moving the club’s position in the table.
“Now the club can focus on the long-term future of the club while having a positive impact on the city and its people, bringing football to schools, providing better facilities for people to learn and grow. ‘drive, while also having a positive impact on the city’s economic growth.’
The club says it will allow it to build on its existing investment, ensuring further investment can be made in the pitch and its facilities.
Since the takeover in January 2020, over £3million has been invested in the club’s infrastructure, including improvements to the pitch, improved conference and events facilities, new headquarters and club facilities. ‘coaching.
Stockport Council will retain full ownership of the ground, ensuring football will be played at Edgeley Park for years to come while helping to raise the town’s profile and boost its economic fortunes.
It is also hoped that this will allow the club to offer a range of programs through its Community Trust.
Councilor David Meller, a cabinet member responsible for the economy and regeneration, said the deal represented “the best of both worlds”.
He said: “The deal would secure the long-term future of the ground while allowing the club to invest significantly in the ground.
“In terms of what has happened historically with the club, I think it’s important that the board’s involvement is maintained on the pitch, it acts a bit like a security blanket,”
However, he said the board were ‘not worried’ about the new owner and ‘on the contrary’ fundamentally supported the club’s plans.
“It provides a bit of security, which I think the fans will appreciate,” said Councilor Meller – who is a huge county fan himself.
“We are really delighted with the development of the relationship with the new owner – they have a real passion and believe in the borough.”
A wider strategic partnership between the council and the football club will also be considered.
Both sides hope it will “build a platform for success for club and city”, bringing investment into grassroots football, education and local regeneration.
The council is also set to help secure a new campus-style education and training facility, intended to ‘provide a better learning space for young people’.
The club says it will continue to build positive relationships with the local community, supporting the interests of Edgeley, its employees and the club.
The Stockport Council Cabinet meets on Tuesday 15th March.
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