Angus Kinnear, Managing Director of Leeds United said that “We are pleased to support the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust in their application to make our home an Asset of Community Value.... We congratulate the Supporters’ Trust for the hard work and dedication they have shown throughout this process and we look forward to exciting times ahead for Leeds United and our supporters at Elland Road.”
This is a significant moment for @LUFC and The City of Leeds @LeedsCC_News.— LUFC Trust (@lufctrust) October 6, 2017
If you're wondering what an #AoCV means for Leeds United, take a look at our video...#TheOnlyPlaceForUs pic.twitter.com/wX8f8cOmcq
So what does “Asset of Community Value” mean? The LUFC Trust has a nice video above that does a good job of explaining it. Additionally, a Parliament Research Briefing defines Assets of Community Value as:
Community assets can be nominated by parish councils or by groups with a connection with the community. Individuals cannot nominate community assets. If the nomination is accepted, local groups will be given time to come up with a bid for the asset when it is sold.
The right to bid only applies when an asset’s owner decides to dispose of it. There is no compulsion on the owner to sell it. The scheme does not give first refusal to the community group, unlike the equivalent scheme in Scotland. It is not a community right to buy the asset, just to bid. This means that the local community bid may not be the successful one.
Most properties in England that have been designated as “AoCV” are historic pubs, usually protected to prevent redevelopment efforts. However, a number of football grounds are also protected by AoCV designation. Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium was the first to be designated as an Asset of Community Value, and other grounds such as Old Trafford have also been protected. Designating football grounds as AoCV is done to prevent situations such as the move of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes or when Brighton & Hove Albion’s ground was sold from underneath them, leaving the club homeless.
While a lot of clubs may not fear their ground being sold from underneath them anytime soon, Leeds United is a good cautionary tale that any club, no matter how “big,” is vulnerable to a dodgy owner that would gladly sell the fans and the club’s history up the river for a few quid. As for the protection of the AoCV designation, it is an excellent idea, as the decision to sell Elland Road to raise funds turned out to be fairly poor business in the long run. With the repurchase of the ground by Andrea Radrizzani, Elland Road is finally under the control of the club again, and with the AoCV designation, fans and the community will never fear the sale of the ground and possible destruction of the club again. No matter what else happens, Leeds will always have a home, and that’s a good thing.