WEST Berkshire Council is seeking a court order to evict Newbury Football Club from its Faraday Road ground after the club declined the offer of a two-year extension to its current lease.
The council said it was “bitterly disappointed” and had been left with “no alternative” but to take legal action and accused the club of performing a “last minute U-turn”.
But a source close to the football club claims that the council included a clause in the new agreement which gave it the option to terminate the lease at any point with six months’ notice.
The club were originally going to be booted out of Faraday Road in June so the council could press ahead with its plans to redevelop the London Road Industrial Estate (LRIE).
The plans are currently the subject of a legal challenge in the High Court involving the council and two developers.
After a public outcry, the council promised to review the timing of the club’s exit and subsequently offered it a two-year extension to the lease, until June 2018.
However, the club has decided to decline that offer after taking advice from solicitors.
Speaking about the decision to take action through the courts, councillor James Fredrickson, executive member for external affairs, said: “We offered a new agreement in good faith and after listening to the club’s pleas to stay on at the site.
“It’s bitterly disappointing that at the 11th hour they have not only declined a new lease but introduced new legal barriers to the agreement proceeding.
“We will now take legal steps in order to protect the land – we owe it to local taxpayers to make sure we safeguard council assets.”
However a source close to the club said: “The council did not offer a two-year extension. It was never a two-year extension because it had the option to terminate with six months notice.
“The club is contesting the legitimacy of the threat to seek a court order and feels the council is using strong-arm tactics to force it to sign the new lease.”
For the full story, see this week's Newbury Weekly News, out today.