LOFT wins protected status for stadium
Leyton Orient fans will have the right to bid to buy their ground if it is put up for sale, after it was made a listed community asset by the local council.
The Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Road, has become an Asset of Community Value (ACV) after an application by the Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust (LOFT) to Waltham Forest council was granted this week.
ACV status gives interested community groups such as LOFT the option of organising a buyout of the ground should it be put up for sale. A community group would have six weeks to register an interest and then up to six months to organise a bid should they choose to do so.
Brisbane Road is the latest of a number of grounds to be granted ACV status, as supporters groups up and down the country organise to protect their stadiums and gain recognition for their vital community role. A total of 29 football grounds are now listed by their local authorities.
LOFT members agreed last season in principle to pursue an ACV application, which was finalised and submitted in September, and granted in a letter from the council this month. Waltham Forest said, in its written decision, that it considers that Brisbane Road's use as a football stadium “furthers the social wellbeing and social interests of the local community, and that the land and building is of community value”.
Brisbane Road is still owned by former chairman Barry Hearn's company Matchroom Sports Ltd.
Doug Harper, LOFT chairman, said: “LOFT is very pleased that Waltham Forest council has granted our application for Brisbane Road to become an ACV. It should give some comfort to O’s fans that in the event of any worst case scenario regarding our home, we will have a chance to protect it. This puts LOFT once again at the forefront of protecting fans’ interests.”
Brisbane Road will now be listed by Waltham Forest under section 95(1) of the 2011 Localism Act. Under the Act, an owner must inform the council if they wish to sell the asset. This triggers a moratorium period of six weeks to “allow a community group to submit a written request to be treated as a potential bidder for the asset which will be followed by a further six-month moratorium period if such a request is received”.
The owner of the ground has eight weeks to appeal against the decision.
LOFT would also like to thank Supporters Direct, the fans' organisation that promotes community ownership of clubs, for its assistance in the ACV application.
Supporters Direct's Kevin Rye said: “We're really pleased to see a historic ground like Brisbane Road joining the growing list of grounds listed as an Asset of Community Value. The Leyton Orient Fans’ Trust has recognised that of the stadium that a form of basic protection like this, in a city like London is very much needed. We hope that the club and Barry Hearn as owner of the ground, see this as an entirely positive step."
For more information contact Tom Davies, LOFT media officer, on 07961 104385 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on LOFT, visit http://www.leytonorientfanstrust.com and follow us on Twitter at @LOFansTrust.