Rochdale’s Spotland home is set to be listed as an asset of community value, making the Hornets statutory consultees if the stadium was to ever become available for sale.
The co-operatively owned Championship club will have a six month window in which they can halt any sale and prepare a bid to purchase the stadium either themselves or in partnership with other community organisations such as The Dale Trust, under the Assets of Community Value Regulations of the localism act 2011.
Julie Clarke, Company Secretary at Rochdale Hornets, said: “It was becoming increasingly clear that Spotland Stadium, under the current model and management was facing increasing financial difficulties and the risk of the company being wound up and the doors being shut was a real threat, despite all tennants being fully up to date with thei rents.
“The last thing we want is a private investor turning up and buying the stadium and land- it would be a real blow to the community of Rochdale.
“We spoke to Supporters Direct who support supporters owned trusts such as ourselves, have provided expert guidance and we can now rest assured that the community of Rochdale will have a right to buy the stadium should it ever come up for sale.
“The stadium as a PLC under the management of the football club, the RFL and RMBC is haemorrhaging money at an alarming rate and unless the model- not necessarily the ownership but the model- is changed then we as a prudent community based organisation may have to step in alongside other similar organisations such as the Dale Trust to safeguard the future of professional sport in the borough.
“The stadium is on a real knife edge at the moment- even we are owed compensation after we agreed to call off our friendly with Hunslet in the interests of the Stadium- and with RMBC and The Dale facing increased financial pressures we had to move in the interests of the people in Rochdale to protect the stadium.”
Other sport stadia across the country that are protected from sale include Old Trafford (Manchester United Supporters Trust), Anfield (Spirit of Shankly), Portman Road (Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust), The Valley (Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust), Valerie Park (Prescot Cables FC), Liberty Way (Nuneaton Town Supporters Cooperative) and St Andrews (Blues Trust).