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.