Exeter City Supporters' Trust call on fans to back 'The Park' buy-out

Exeter City Supporters’ Trust are calling on its members to vote in favour of a motion that will see the club gain full control of OTR Limited, the owners of ‘The Park'.

‘The Park’ is the building on site at St James Park that concists of the club’s offices, supporters’ bar, Trust Hospitality Suite and bar, the museum room and Legends Lounge. It also has storage space and includes the space adjacent to the Nevada Construction Stand, known as the Fan Zone, up to the metal gates separating it from Stadium Way.

By gaining full control of this asset, the club believe it can save money in the long run and the Trust are keen to loan the Football Club the £287,000 needed to buy out OTR.

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In an emailed letter sent out to Trust members, chairman Nick Hawker said: “ Exeter City Football Club pay £62,000pa rent under the lease and, subject to variations in the costs incurred by OTR (Exeter) Limited, would be expected to have funded the full repayment of the loans in 2030. At present there is £287k outstanding.

“The Supporters’ Trust would like to loan Exeter City Football Club sufficient funds to repay the loan immediately, and an additional amount equal to the club’s own investment in the company (£37k). This would be done on the basis that the loan could be repaid by transferring the building to the Trust or the Trust being given sole control of the Company. The Trust is taking advice at the moment on the best way to hold the property asset used by the Club.

“The Supporters’ Trust will engage appropriate legal representation to ensure that any transfer of the asset/transfer of control is completed appropriately, and that the club continues to service the building in the same manner as it does at present.

“The Trust Board strongly recommend that members approve this proposal. It will further safeguard our club whilst potentially saving considerable sums of money with respect to the additional costs incurred by OTR (Exeter) Limited. We anticipate the ballot being despatched within 24 hours of receipt of this mail.”

OTR (Exeter) Limited was formed to purchase and develop this building in 1998, at a time when the club did not have the necessary funds and as a way of safeguarding the club against the sale of its assets if there was an insolvency situation. Each investor formed part of a Participation Agreement that contained two fundamental conditions: 1. That no investor should receive interest on the monies lent to the Company (unless all participants agreed) and that each investor would resign as a member of the Company when their loan was repaid; and 2. That once the loans were repaid the building would be dealt with as the Club required.

The Company granted a lease to the Club and over the years, the club has been paying rent which the Company has used to repay a bank loan, meet the Company’s expenses, and more recently reduce the loans made by the participants. Once the participants’ loans were fully repaid, a mechanism existed, within the Participation Agreement, to allow for the Club to take full control or to transfer ownership of the company’s assets (i.e. the Park Building), to the Club.

Throughout this period the football club has had full responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the building. The costs incurred by OTR (Exeter) Limited (the usual legal, audit, and taxation charges) were paid out of the rent.

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