Earlier this week, Mr Tony Kleanthous, Chairman of Barnet Football Club, announced that the club was going to leave Underhill at the end of the season. A petition has been set up to keep the club at their current home and you can sign it here. Don’t Call Me Dave urges everyone to sign it, even if you are not a football fan.
Mr Kleanthous blames his ongoing disagreements with Barnet Council as being the reason for the proposed departure. But he has been arguing with Barnet Council for as long as most of us can remember. Even back in the days when Labour and the LibDems were
The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much the council gives, Mr Kleanthous always seems to want more. In 2002, the Labour led administration secretly sold the freehold of Underhill to Barnet Football Club Holdings Ltd (a company controlled by Mr Kleanthous, but separate to the football club, despite its name) for the princely sum of £10,000. Yes, £10,000 for a three acre site in a prime residential location. Many BFC fans have been posting messages on the internet demanding that the council supports the club. How much more support is the council supposed to give?
The High Court actually ruled that the sale was unlawful, but it was powerless to overturn the transaction, meaning that the taxpayers of Barnet received very poor value.
Under the agreed terms of the sale, the council was due to receive a percentage of the future development value. The percentage split was 60/40 in the council’s favour. However, due to an elementary cock up in the contract, which the highly paid Borough Solicitor, Jeff Lustig, failed to spot (even though he was legally required to approve said contract), the agreement was time limited to ten years. In other words, if BFCH sold the land within 10 years of purchase, Barnet taxpayers would receive a share. If BFCH sold after 10 years, they kept the lot.
DCMD is sure that it is simply a very happy coincidence that Mr Kleanthous has made the decision to move out now, just as the 10 year anniversary (March 2012) is rapidly approaching.
Of course, if Barnet Football Club remain at Underhill forever, the land cannot be developed into housing and private individuals will not be able to profit at the expense of taxpayers, whose land was sold without their knowledge or consent.
It is therefore imperative that everyone does whatever is necessary to Keep Barnet Football Club at Underhill.