Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Saracens at Barnet Copthall - Who's naming rights?

Lets get this right. Barnet Council granted Saracens a long lease on a peppercorn rent to "regenerate Barnet Copthall". It now appears that Saracens have sold the naming rights to the Stadium for £8 million to Allianz - a German finacial services group. The deal is for six years. The money will pay towards the £20 million redevelopment of Copthall.

On the face of it, this is a good deal for Barnet isn't it? A new stadium and new facilities a no cost to the taxpayer? Erm hang on a second, lets think this through. Saracens have a budget of £20 million for redevelopment, but presumable they are financing this with a loan? Assuming Saracens stay for 99 years, the term of their lease, they will (at todays prices) receive £99 million pounds over the term of the lease for the naming rights, in return for spending £20 million doing the stadium up. Barnet council received a sum of £1.8 million in respect of the site. All of this takes no account of ticket sales, merchandising and other hires etc.

This blog has no objections to the Saracens Rugby Club, but they are a private company and have in effect been given a huge amount of taxpayer sponsored help with this deal. As a football fan, I m dismayed at the double standard applied to a Rugby club as opposed to a football club. Barnet FC are the local club, but have been driven out of the Borough. The Council attached no value to the benefit of having a leage club with the name of the Borough. Every time the football scores are read out, the profile of Barnet is raised. What does Saracens playing at the Allianz Arena do for Barnet? Nothing. Local people objected to Barnet FC because they perceived traffic and congestion. They see no difference at all between football traffic and rugby traffic. They feel betrayed by Barnet Council.

As far as I'm concerned the Barnet taxpayer has been taken to the cleaners in this deal. They have in effect given the ground away, the Rugby club are getting someone else to pay for the work, the local people will bear the brunt of the traffic (unlike Barnet FC, most Saracens fans live outside the Borough) and we've lost our local football cflub to Harrow Council. In a splendid irony, it doesn't seem to have occurred to the Borough planners that fans attending Barnet FC games in Harrow (most of whom will be driving from the East of the Borough) will collide with Saracens fans traffic (most of whom are currently based in Watford and Hertfordshire) in Mill Hill at Apex Corner on match days.

Like most things involved with Barnet Council, there is no forethought and we look as if we've got the usual mix of financial ineptitude and incovenience for the general public.

The Guardian reported on the deal today - http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/24/saracens-allianz-park-stadium - sadly they seem to have missed the nuances of the deal.


Nicholas said...

99 years at a peppercorn - has the whiff of state aid. I wonder if Barnet have even considered the issue.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Can we please put an end to this incessant nonsense about poor old Barnet F.C. being so hard done by. A company owned by Mr Kleanthous bought the Underhill freehold for a measly £10,000 (in a transaction subsequently ruled unlawful by the High Court). The development value of the land was about £3m ten years ago. What is it worth today? Perhaps we will soon find out? But thanks to the incompetence of the last Labour/LibDem Administration, Barnet taxpayers will not receive one penny from any future development of the land.

Barnet F.C. has done rather well from the taxpayers of Barnet and should stop bloody whingeing just because another sports team has also secured a good deal. Barnet F.C., like Saracens, is a private company and has no right to expect any more handouts from taxpayers.

Rog T said...


It isn't Mr Kleanthous I feel sorry for, it is the fans. Fans don't want a handout, they want the local authority to work with the club. Is that too much to ask.

Barnet Council gives the impression that it hates football. That cannot be good for anyone

Anonymous said...

A very interesting article there.

There are a lot of unanswered questions that surround Barnet Council and the taxpayers shouldn't stand for it.

As for Barnet FC I think it is fairly clear that the anti-football council are the primary obstacle to the club remaining in the borough. Why has Harrow Council managed to find a suitable location for the club in a matter of months whereas Barnet Council's efforts have resulted in nothing over many years of supposedly helping the club?

When the football club moves to Harrow a precious community asset in Barnet will be lost due to the incompetence and short-sightedness of our local politicians.

Unknown said...

"Barnet F.C. has done rather well from the taxpayers of Barnet"

I have no knowledge of who Dave is, but this is perhaps the most disingenuous comment i've ever come across.

Perhaps a more accurate way of looking at it is ""Barnet F.C. has done rather well from the taxpayers of Harrow, who have done rather well from Barnet F.C.".

I cannot think of a single reason why the club has benefitted from taxpayers?

Harrow now have a world class community facility though, used by international and premier league teams, and chosen by the Olympic Committee to train their football officials. Should and could have been in Barnet, or do community facilities and jobs provided by the private sector not matter if your priority is having an anti-footballing / TK agenda.

Finally, the Conservatives won on a promise to stop a Second Stadium. Now is the opportunity to support One stadium, and bring Barnet FC home. That doesn't conflict with a 10 year old election promise.

Also, as it sounds like Dave will be aware (?) there is a clause in the contract that allows for any proceeds from the sale of Underhill to go into a new stadium in the borough of Barnet.

There could be an opportunity for everyone if Barnet Council has the wishes.