Developers denied chance to demolish stadium

Stockport County’s future has been secured days before the new Vanarama National League season kicks off after their local council stepped in to buy their Edgeley Park home to save it from being bulldozed.

Stockport Council has completed the purchase of the ground from majority Sale Sharks owner Brian Kennedy, for a sum believed to be around £2 million.

In 2003, Kennedy bought the ground for Premiership rugby union side Sale, and merged the two clubs. But he relinquished quit his role with County after two years. Three years ago, the rugby club relocated to the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford.

It was widely feared that Edgeley Park might then be sold by Kennedy's company Cheshire Sports to developers, who would knock it down, leaving County without a permanent home.

County's famous Edgeley Park

County's famous Edgeley Park

Fans had collected a 5,000 signature petition pleading with the council to help County stay at the stadium and two months ago it was disclosed that the council was talking to Cheshire Sports about buying the stadium after agreeing to match any sum that developers might offer.

Now that ambition has become a reality – and the local authority says the deal will not cost the public purse anything and will eventually lead to a commercial return on the purchase.

Deputy council leader councillor Iain Roberts said: “This is a genuinely commercial arrangement which will enable a landlord-tenant relationship to be set up between the council and Stockport County Football Club. This purchase will not cost Stockport council tax payers a penny.”

A statement from the council added that it will not be giving any financial aid to the football club and wanted to see a commercial return from the purchase.

Steve Bellis, the Vanarama National North club’s board’s senior advisor, said: “This is a momentous day for everyone involved with Stockport County. The security and stability that this gives the club just ahead of the start of a new season cannot be underestimated.

He added: “We look forward to continuing to put this wonderful town on the map.”

Stockport County kick off against Boston United at Edgley park on Saturday on the opening day of the new Vanarama season.

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