SOUTH Somerset District Council (SSDC) has approved the purchase of Huish Park and other land owned by Yeovil Town Football Club today (Thursday).

The proposal was on today's District Executive agenda, and its approval means that the council is set to purchase the main property and land assets at Huish Park and lease back to the club.

The intention is to help ease the club’s short-term financial concerns, a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the prevention of crowds from attending Yeovil’s National League matches.

The proposal also gives Yeovil Town the option to buy back the land the club occupies in the future when its financial outlook has improved.

Council leader Val Keitch said: “The decision to approve this proposal was made today following a detailed and thorough debate which was quite right given its importance.

“We have agreed to make an investment that will not only benefit a football club which has such an important role to play in our community but one which will also benefit our residents.

“It is our responsibility to ensure we offer any support where we can to businesses big and small, which we have done before and throughout this pandemic, and we will continue to do so.”

John Clark, portfolio holder for commercial strategy added: “This commercial investment has been analysed with the same rigour as all our commercial investments, and meets the council’s requirements for return on investment at an acceptable level of risk.”

Approval of the proposal was welcomed by the club's chairman Scott Priestnall, who said: “I would like to thank the officers at SSDC for their time and effort in putting together the proposal to buy the stadium and land at Huish Park.

“Being a chairman and owner of a football club is very different to operating other businesses and as a custodian of this fantastic club, I feel it is my duty to not only ensure its survival during these difficult times but also to give it the future the community and the supporters deserve.

“I would finally like to thank local councillors for their time and support today and I look forward to moving forward with SSDC and working with our supporters’ groups to deliver the best possible future for Yeovil Town FC.”

In terms of what happens next, the council will work with the club on the details of the investment and moving it towards completion, subject to the registered community asset procedures.

The counil statement added: "As the site is a registered community asset, Yeovil Town Supporters Society Ltd will be given the opportunity, prior to any sale of the registered property, to consider if they wish to have the opportunity to prepare and submit a bid. 

"However, if any written intentions are received, this could cause a delay to proceedings of six months during which time the club could face more serious financial difficulty.

"The club and the council will continue to work with the Yeovil Town Supporters Society and keep it fully informed."