Asset Of Community Value: Update
This week we received confirmation from the Council that, in its view, the ACV registered on 25 July 2019 continues to be effective despite the recent sale of the ground. The Council have considered a significant amount of detailed legislation and regulations surrounding the validity of the registration, and we thank them for their efforts in doing this.
A number of questions have been asked by Trust members and other Blues fans about why the ACV did not prevent the sale going ahead. It was originally thought that an ACV could prevent the ownership of the ground changing without notification. However, the regulations are very narrowly defined and notification is only required in very specific circumstances. The Council has explained that:
“ there would have been no obligation on BCFC PLC (Birmingham City Football Club PLC) to notify the Council of any sale to BCSL (Birmingham City Stadium Limited) because both those companies appear to be part of a group of companies ultimately controlled by Birmingham Sports Holdings Limited (BSH). As such the disposition of the stadium would constitute a disposal by one body corporate to another where the second one is a group undertaking in relation to the first, within the meaning of paragraph 10 of Schedule 3 to the Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012”
Equally, when BCSL recently sold 25% of St Andrew’s to Oriental Rainbow Investments Ltd and 75% to Achiever Global Ltd, thus meaning that BCSL (and therefore St Andrew’s) was no longer owned by the BSH Group, the Council explains that:
“A disposal of any shares in the entity holding the land is not a relevant disposal for the purposes of the scheme relating to Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011”.
This means that only a disposal of the asset itself can constitute a ‘relevant disposal’ and only this requires the Council to be notified. The sale of the company owning the asset appears not to require notification.
In conclusion, from the information provided by the Council and also our own understanding of the role of an ACV, the Trust believes that having an ACV registration does offer a measure of protection about what happens to the ground itself, if not the transfer of ownership through the buying and selling of the company that owns it.
The Fan Led Review being carried out by Tracey Crouch MP has highlighted ground ownership as an issue on which fans should have the right to be consulted, and even possibly be given a veto. This might be by either strengthening the ACV regulations or by giving fans a ‘Golden Share’ which would outrank the rights of the owners to do as they wish with a football ground. The Review is expected to be published very shortly and it will be interesting to see what specific recommendations are finally made.
The Trust continues to monitor the situation regarding St Andrew’s very closely and would be happy to try and answer any further questions about the ACV if you have them. If you do, please contact the Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org
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