Potential legal dispute over ownership of Vale Park buildings

Potential legal dispute over ownership of Vale Park buildings

A possible legal dispute over the ownership of buildings at Vale Park could take place in the near future.

Current club owner Norman Smurthwaite is in talks to sell the club but the Port Vale FC Community Trust say that the building that houses the club shop and ticket office (pictured above) is owned by them.

The problem the trustees have got is that within the grant details it says that no commercial activity whatsoever must go on by Port Vale FC in any of the buildings…

They say that because they are a separate business from the football club, their property was not part of the sale when Smurthwaite and  Paul Wildes bought the club in 2012.

The land on which the buildings stand belong to the football club and its owner, but the ownership of buildings themselves are in dispute as they were built with the aid of government grants issued to the Trust.

Port Vale FC Community Trust trustee Pete Williams told a Port Vale Supporters Club meeting that: “My research finds that the academy building, the gym above it, the club shop and the ticket office do not belong to Mr Smurthwaite, they belong to the football Trust.

“The problem the trustees have got is that within the grant details it says that no commercial activity whatsoever must go on by Port Vale FC in any of the buildings.

He showed me where it is quite clear that only buildings in the ownership of Valiant 2001 were sold to Alchemy Investments…

“Because the club is up for sale we can’t sit back now. The other thing we have found out now as we have dug into it is that these clauses stay on it by the government who gave us the grant, for 25 years. If those are broken then the grant has to be paid back in full with interest by the trustees. I am a trustee so I could lose my house if we allow it to go on. We have hired a solicitor now and we have hired a barrister.

“I was hoping that the administrators had made a mistake so I went to see Mr Young [Bob Young, former administrator]. He showed me where it is quite clear that only buildings in the ownership of Valiant 2001 were sold to Alchemy Investments which was the company that Mr Wildes and Smurthwaite bought it under.”

Williams says the Port Vale chairman to buy the buildings from the community trust for the price of the grants so that the Trust could return the money raised in grants to central government.

The Sentinel reports that Norman Smurthwaite disputes the Trust’s claims and that he has not seen any proof that the buildings do not belong to the football club.