Stockport County agree 250-year lease for Edgeley Park as they chase a return to English Football League
Stockport County have agreed a 250-year lease for Edgeley Park as the club eyes a return to the footballing big time.
The Hatters currently have a 25-year lease with the council, which acquired the freehold for the ground back in 2015.
After being taken over by Mark Stott in January 2020, the club created a seven-year vision to return Stockport County to Championship level – the second tier of English professional football.
They presently top the National League and look poised to return to the English Football League for the first time since 2011.
Mr Stott has already made substantial investment in Edgeley Park, particularly in the main Cheadle End stand.
The ground’s much-improved commercial facilities are a key revenue stream for the club.
But having a relatively short term lease can inhibit investment and the ability to raise finances – even when the landlord is the local council.
So to support the Hatters’ ambitions, the club and town hall have agreed the terms of a £2.1m long-lease of Edgeley Park to Stockport County 2010 Ltd – the land owning entity controlled by the football club.
The 250-year deal is set to be signed off by town hall chiefs at a cabinet meeting on 15 March.
How has the club reacted?
Jonathan Vaughan, CEO at Stockport County Football Club, said the club was ‘delighted’ to secure the long-term lease of Edgeley Park.
He said: “Over the last two years, significant investment has been made into the Club’s infrastructure, re-engaging fans and shifting the club’s position in the table.
“Now the club can focus on the long-term future of the club whilst having a positive impact on the town and its people, taking football into schools, providing better facilities for people to learn and train, whilst having a positive impact on the town’s economic growth.”
The club says it will allow it to build upon its existing investment, ensuring that further investment can be made on the ground and its facilities.
Since the takeover in January 2020, more than £3m has been ploughed into the club’s infrastructure, including improvements to the pitch, upgraded conference and events facilities, new seating, and training facilities.
Stockport Council will retain the freehold 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 this will enable the club to deliver a range of programmes through its Community Trust.
What did they say at the town hall?
Coun David Meller, cabinet member for economy and regeneration said the deal represented ‘the best of both worlds’.
He said: “The agreement would secure the long-term future of the ground while allowing the club to invest significantly in the ground.
“In terms of what’s gone on historically with the club, I think it’s important to have the council’s involvement retained within the ground, it acts as a bit of a security blanket,.
However he said the council was ‘not worried’ about the new owner and, ‘on the contrary’ fundamentally supported the plans for the club.
“It provides that bit of security I think the fans will appreciate,” said Coun Meller – who is a big County fan himself.
“We are really excited about where the relationship is going now with the new owner – they have a real passion and belief in the borough.”
A wider strategic partnership between the council and football club will also be considered.
The two parties hopes this will ‘build a platform for success for both the club and the town’, bringing investment into grass-roots football, education and local regeneration.
The council is also set to help secure a a new campus style training and educational facility, intended to ‘provide a better space for young people to learn’.
The club says it will continue to build positive relationships with the local community, supporting the the interests of Edgeley, its people and the club.
Stockport council’s cabinet meets on Tuesday 15 March.