York City's deal to buy Bootham Crescent was the result of months of hard work and negotiation. DAVE FLETT looks at what it all means for the Minstermen.

THE deal which brought Bootham Crescent back to the football club was part of a much bigger picture for all those concerned at York City.

Not only did it return the stadium to the club, but it means York City should move to a new home in a decade.

Bootham Crescent Holdings (BCH), the company which has owned the ground since 1999, will no longer have a say in club affairs.

For City managing director, Jason McGill - the architect of the deal - the news brings to an end more than a year of work to find a successful way of ensuring City were to stay at Bootham Crescent for the foreseeable future.

The fine print of the deal reveals much more than the promise of a new ground, or the £2 million loan which allowed City to buy back Bootham Crescent.

Douglas Craig, chairman of BCH, will receive £1.2 million for the sale of nearly 100,000 of his shares.

The nominal number he has left in his possession because the football club did not have the necessary finances to buy them back at this stage, will be acquired by the Minstermen over the next three years at a cost of £12.10 each.

The value of any shares remaining after that date would become subject to inflation.

As for Persimmon Homes, the other major player in the deal, the company will have first refusal on buying Bootham Crescent when City moves into its new ground.

The deal gives the company an option to gain possession of the land at a ten per cent discount of its market value - currently estimated at £4.5million with planning permission.

That agreement was crucial in acquiring the £2 million loan from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).

In return, Persimmon cancelled their existing contract with BCH, which had seen a planning application to build 93 houses on the site of the football ground already submitted to City of York Council.

City fans can also be assured that the deal includes a further clause stating that construction cannot begin at Bootham Crescent until a newly-constructed Football League compliant stadium is available to the football club.

Mr McGill said: "The deal is not subject to time constraints and, if the powers that be decide we can't move, we won't move."

The conditions of the loan do, however, require that the football club identify a site for the new stadium by 2007 and have detailed planning permission by 2009 to avoid financial penalties.

FSIF's loan, which will have a variable interest rate of 0.5 per cent above the base rate over ten years, has also been secured against a first charge on Bootham Crescent.

Mr McGill said: "The loan has given us overall control of Bootham Crescent, the training ground at Wigginton Road and the club's land at Bumper Castle."

In addition, an application from the football club could also see the loan turned into a £2.5million grant from the FSIF for relocation and the development of a new stadium.

Any equity released from the sale of Bootham Crescent would also assist in the funding of a new stadium.

The combined cost of paying BCH directors, Persimmon Homes and Stamp Duty is £2.1million, leaving the football club still needing to raise £100,000 on top of the FSIF loan.

Further fundraising may be required to make up the shortfall in the future but, for now, Mr McGill was glad to announce the hugely significant news for the football club just weeks after the misery of relegation to the Nationwide Conference.

He said: "It's a momentous day in the history of our great football club and, once again, we, the supporters, have achieved the incredible.

"The board would like to thank the Football Stadia Improvement Fund for their financial support and assistance.

"The Football Foundation executives have worked very hard to ensure York City has a suitable home now and in the future and we are grateful to their significant contribution.

"We would also like to thank the directors of Bootham Crescent Holdings for agreeing to sell their shares at a heavily discounted price."

Updated: 12:11 Friday, June 11, 2004