Whyteleafe Football Club’s ground has been bought by a Singapore-based company in a half-million-pound deal which could see the Isthmian League side have to leave their Church Road home.
“This could end up finishing the club,” a sports website has reported Whyteleafe’s chairman as saying.
The Athletic has reported that the ground’s purchasers, Irama Sport, have “close links” to former Liverpool and Wales player Ian Rush.
Whyteleafe is one of three non-league football grounds around the country that has been bought by Irama, and that they have expressed interest to buy at least eight more.
The freehold of Church Road was owned by Astrosoccer 4 U Ltd. The company had been in administration for three years, with the ground offered for sale by Savills Auction last September. Irama paid £495,000 for a considerable chunk of Tandridge property.
The football club – which has been forced to abandon the last two league seasons due to coronavirus, and has had no reliable income stream for the past year – has given notice on its £1,000-a-month lease, according to The Athletic.
Whyteleafe, founded in 1946, are managed by former Croydon FC boss Harry Hudson.
The Athletic reports that Irama plans “to focus on providing grassroots for the long term”.
But Whyteleafe chairman Mark Coote told them: “Irama don’t seem to grasp football clubs, it’s as if they’re landlords.
“This could end up finishing the club and the community I’ve built over the last 25 years. We’re in a very difficult position. Terminating the lease means Whyteleafe don’t have anywhere to play.
“This isn’t all Irama’s fault. The current climate doesn’t help. We are getting bits of help from the Football Association but it will be very difficult for our club to survive.”
The Rush Foundation, set-up in the name of the former international, has stated charitable objectives to encourage and enable youth sport. References to the Foundation are included on Irama Sport correspondence.
An Irama statement to The Athletic said: “We want all teams to continue playing at our grounds and welcome them to contact us directly if they wish to continue playing at our properties.”
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