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Council Will Not Be Stadium Shareholders

January 8, 2010

The claims, made on Tony D’s Aurea Mediocritas Blog, have been dismissed as “inaccurate and unsubstantiated” by Bristol City, and have also been denied by a senior Lib Dem source on the city council.

The article claimed Bristol City Council had approached Bristol City FC with an offer to become minority shareholders in the stadium, which City refused.

Such a plan would effectively mean the stadium being partly funded by council taxpayers’ money and partly owned by the city of Bristol.

But Bristol City spokesman Adam Baker strenuously denied the suggestions, saying: “”No such offer has been made. This blog is inaccurate and unsubstantiated.

“We have worked very closely with the City Council from the very outset and that process continues to involve detailed discussion and negotiation on a range of issues.

“We are confident that we will complete the remaining details of the planning process on the stadium in the next few weeks.

“Our plan to open a new 30,000 seater regional stadium and move into a new home for the 2012/13 season remains on track.”

A senior source on the city’s ruling Lib Dem group also forcefully denied the claims.

However, the row has reopened the debate on whether there should be public funding available for the new stadium.

Bristol City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone has previously said one of the strengths of the stadium plan was that it was funded completely by private investment and that this was something Bristol should be proud of. He has also said there is currently no public money available for the stadium.

However, as exclusively reported by Jones The News, regional quango the South West RDA have been in talks with the club about a possible public investment for the stadium.

The RDA is currently in talks with the city council about swapping the former arena site at Temple Meads with a plot adjacent to the site of the new stadium, in order to make building an arena at Ashton Vale easier.

The question of public investment may become more urgent if the club’s current plan to fund the stadium by selling Ashton Gate to Sainsbury’s runs into trouble.

The club hopes to raise £20m towards its new ground by selling its ground to the supermarket giant.

However, the planning report into the Tesco proposal was highly critical, leading many to speculate it would have been turned down by the city council.

Sources at the now-disbanded anti-Tesco campaign group Berate claimed to Jones The News they interpreted the report as being critical of any supermarket on the Ashton Gate site, and believe the Sainsbury’s plan will receive a similarly hostile reception from planners.

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2 comments

  1. Why is there only an unattributable denial from a politician at the council about this?

    Off-the-record and unattributed = spin.

    What does the council’s press office have to say on-the-record about this?


  2. The lack of on-the-record comment from the council is more to do with me than them.

    I have no doubt I could get an attributed statement saying exactly the same thing, but think the story stands without it.

    My source is extremely reliable, but the Lib Dems have an understandable policy of referring all on-the-record interview requests to the relevant executive member, which can be a bit of pain for me and for them, and can take time. Especially if it’s Barbara Janke or Simon Cook. In this case, I’m 100% confident they would give an effective paraphrase of what City have said.

    And I don’t think it’s fair to describe all off-the-record comments as spin. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. Politicians are often surprisingly candid to journalists in off-the-record conversations, but a lot more guarded in what they can say in an attributable comment. I find you often get something much less ‘spun’ when talking privately.



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