Yeovil Town Chairman John Fry has admitted that he is frustrated at the lack of progress in the club's ongoing attempts to remove the restrictive covenants that exist on the Huish Park site. In an article in the Sunday Independent, Fry believes that whilst those remain in place, his club will be unable to move foward in their plans to develop the stadium and surrounding land.
The covenants on the land at Huish Park are restrictions include restrictions on what developments can be carried out on the land, and were largely drawn up as concessions to various parties at the time planning permission was granted for the stadium around 1989. The two key ones at stake, to our knowledge, are that Huish Park's 26 acres are designated for 'sports' purposes only, with the rights to that covenant held by South Somerset District Council. The other relates to the restrictions on the sale of alcohol on the land, and is held by Abbey Manor Group, under the terms that saw The Arrow pub built 20 years ago.
Fry doesn't explicitly state which covenants are causing him concern, but accuses unnamed parties of not sharing the club's dreams. He also claims the current problems are preventing the club from having their own training ground, or facilities for Yeovil Town Ladies to play on:
"It is very frustrating. We are up there with the best-run clubs in the country and have done things the proper way. But we need people to be helping us. There are restrictive covenants on Huish Park that need to be lifted to help us develop.
I don't want this to seem like a threat, but there are people who don't share our dreams. For instance, we haven't even got a training ground. There are no decent pitches in Yeovil. Our Ladies team as been promoted but they have had to go to Wells City to find a pitch to play on. We should be looking for a sports facility for Yeovil, and the local council admits this, but we need people with a will to make it happen."
The addition of the main 'site usage' covenant was supported by former Yeovil Town Director George Smith in a letter to SSDC in the year 2000. As a result, the club's plans to build a Food Store on the Huish Park land are likely to be heard by SSDC's Regulatory Committee, with the latest date for the application to be reviewed being October 2012.
Fry believes there are 'ongoing issues' within the Council and has brought in local MP David Laws to resolve them. He claims that the sale of the Huish Park land is needed in order to work within FIFA regulations, and to deal with the £500,000 he wants to spend on the main stadium pitch, which unable to stage a pre-season friendly against Plymouth Argyle this summer due to problems with it being match ready. The Glovers Chairman feels that he is encountering too many problems along the way:
"How do we move forward with a restrictive covenant on the site? I seem to spend all my time going through hoops and hurdles. It has to be progression or die. There are ongoing issues with the South Somerset District Council and we have had a meeting with our MP (David Laws) who can see our position and has been helpful. All clubs need money to work within FIFA's financial fair play rules.
We need to spend £500,000 on the pitch and I know it's a tough world out there. I have the dream to take the club higher. Fans don't want relegation battles every season, but to realise the dream we have to generate money. We have not gone to the council to ask for money, and I don't intend to, but we must get rid of that legal millstone around our necks."
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