Following on from a previous blog entry about the crippling Valley Parade rent, today’s Yorkshire Post article about the possibility of the club quitting Valley Parade in favour of another ground, most likely Odsal, has seen the subject rear its ugly head yet again.
But what are the possibilities?
Remaining at Valley Parade
Everyone’s number one choice. Nobody wants to leave Valley Parade – it’s the club’s spiritual home, having played there since the clubs formation and since 1886 in the clubs former guise as Manningham RFC. It is where the club belong and is synonymous with the club. Remaining here, though, is becoming increasingly difficult with increasing overheads and dwindling income. Lower ticket sales, coupled with lower takings from merchandise and extras (Through the clubs % take on any profits) has seen the club forced into a corner. The chances of remaining at Valley Parade at the current rates in the long run are slim and would probably see the death of the club. Getting a reduction in rent is in everybody’s interest. This though, is looking highly unlikely at the moment.
Administration and Odsal
Without knowing the intricacies of the lease that sees VP rented back to the club, it is likely that the only way out of it is either; A) Buying Valley Parade outright – unlikely, or B) Administration and breaking the deal leaving Gordon Gibb with an unused football stadium. This would allow the club to move up to Odsal, cut costs massively and in theory allow them to invest more in the team and become more financially stable. This is a highly risky strategy though, for more than one reason. Firstly, the Football League would not take kindly to a third period in administration in ten years. They would throw the book at the club which would likely see City relegated. Secondly, the administrators are legally obliged to pick the best offer for the club – thus it is highly likely that Gibb – if he sought to protect his investment, or any other interested party could take over the club for nothing, seeing Lawn and particularly Rhodes leaving the club with mass loses. Something both the chairmen will want to avoid.
Everything remains as it is now. And that will probably signal the death of the club. It has been more than a decade of decline now - increasing costs coupled with decreasing revenue is making the clubs position more and more fragile each year. Lawn even states in the Yorkshire Post article that the club ‘faces extinction’ should the club remain at Valley Parade under current rates. A situation no one wants.
We can hope! Messrs Lawn and Rhodes may be posturing about moving up to Odsal, but it could all be a smokescreen. There have been murmurings of parties interested in investing of the club lately – which was associated with the Stockport £1 ticket offer – supposedly a showcase of the clubs potential - and will no doubt be linked with today’s news that Tuesdays game against Burton will also be £1 a ticket. Investment may be a possibility, but it may hinge on whether or not the club can reduce levels of rent it is liable for currently. Anything along these lines would be hugely positive for the club, and could finally see that long awaited turn in fortune. But for now they remain as unfounded rumours.