‘If [Villa Park] is ever put up for sale, there is a legal obligation to alert Aston Villa supporters’
Back in January MOMS published confirmation that MOMS with the AVST had secured Villa Park as an Asset of Community Value with Birmingham City Council. In case you didn’t see the notification that was also published on the AVST and Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) sites, that the local press didn’t think worthy of covering, lets explain a little bit more on how it helps Villa supporters in the club’s current financial predicament.
As you would have read, the club’s current financial situation has been precarious enough to have had the EFL request a meeting with the club to discuss it. Plus, earlier media reports even suggested potential consequences from HMRC.
There’s also been rumours of consortiums showing interest in buying the club and Tony Xia and Recon potentially willing selling up. This is where Villa Park as an asset of community value (ACV) comes in.
Villa Park Asset of Community Value
Since the stadium is now officially recognised as an asset to its community and listed as an ACV for five years, if it is ever put up for sale, there is a legal obligation to alert Aston Villa supporters via the AVST of a potential change to Villa Park’s primary use.
This gives supporters and the local community the right and opportunity to lodge a bid within six weeks, with finance then needing to be secured in a moratorium period of six months.
While currently indications from the club are that Tony Xia intends to stay the owner of the club, at the very least, it will provide Villa fans a heads-up to what the future may hold, if a situation ever arose that saw Villa Park put up for sale.
Over in Germany, the 50+1% model reigns supreme for the majority of clubs, but in English football, it seems a long-shot considering the millions of pounds needed for a club to be competitive in the top tier.
Would a consortium of Villa fans really be in the position to buy the club if Xia decided to sell tomorrow? It would be unlikely at the moment, especially with only six weeks to arrange such a venture and lodge a bid.
However, if Villa were to slip down another division, then the de-valued club might be within grasp of being in reach of supporters to formulate some plan. That’s perhaps a story for another time (the trials and tribulation of Swansea City’s part fan ownership is an interesting study).
Increasingly, supporters are being squeezed out of the game and having their roles diminished to that of consumers, yet, at least the ACV is something that reminds us what our role should be – guardians of our great club.
Owners, managers and players come and go, but the constant heart of Aston Villa Football Club remain both its supporters and its home of Villa Park.
Localism Act 2011 – Asset of Community Value
The right to list buildings as an asset of community value was enabled under the Localism Act 2011.
The Localism Act describes an ACV as “a building, or other land, is an asset of community value if its main use is, or has recently been, to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and it could do so in the future.”
Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium was the first ground to be protected in 2013 and since several grounds including: Old Trafford, Anfield, St James Park, Ewood Park, St Andrews, Portman Road and the City Ground, have all followed.