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County Hall 'no interest' in Carrow Road deal

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:23 02 July 2010

Norwich City Football Club's Carrow Road ground.

Norwich City Football Club's Carrow Road ground.

Sarah Hall

The leader of Norfolk County Council today said the authority was not interested in snapping up Carrow Road as the club looks for ways to reduce its debts.

The leader of Norfolk County Council today said the authority was not interested in snapping up Carrow Road as the club looks for ways to reduce its debts.

Norwich City Football Club revealed last week that its debts had risen to a record £23m and chairman Alan Bowkett said selling Carrow Road was “an option”.

He suggested a possible buyer could be insurance firm Axa, which gave the club a £15m securitisation loan in 2002 to pay for the Jarrold Stand - of which £11.5m has yet to be paid back.

But Mr Bowkett also mooted the possibility of a co-operative being set up with a local authority might get involved with the club.

While he conceded that was unlikely to happen in Norwich, he said the co-operative model had worked at one of the world's most successful football club.

He said: “It's where a club is owned by the community. The classic example is Barcelona.”

The Spanish giants, who won the Champions League in 2006, is owned by its fan-members, of which there are 156,000 members, and Mr Bowkett said that sort of model could be an option at Carrow Road.

Mr Bowkett suggested a mixture of local authority investment and shareholding fans could generate money for the club, with a board elected every three years.

But he conceded: “It would be difficult to implement but we want to look at every option.”

Mr Bowkett drew on the example of Ebbsfleet United, where the local council recently bought its ground and is renting it back to the football club for a peppercorn rent.

Ebbsfleet United's Stonebridge Road ground was snapped up by Gravesham Borough Council last September to secure the Conference National team's future.

The council, which paid £400,000 for the ground, will give the club a longer lease and charge just £1 a year.

However, Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “From the county council's perspective it is not something we have looked into and nor would we be keen to buy Carrow Road.”

He added in these cash-strapped times, the council did not have cash to spare to buy a football stadium, with Carrow Road and associated buildings and land valued at £34.5m in the club's accounts.

Visit www.pinkun.com for all the latest news from Carrow Road.

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