Windsor FC and Crown Estate in stalemate over the lease of Stag Meadow ground

Tara O'Connor

Reporter:

Tara O'Connor

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A football club chairman has described an ongoing lease dispute with the Crown Estate as ‘morally reprehensible’.

Windsor FC is based at Stag Meadow, St Leonard’s Road, on land owned by the Crown Estate.

It was founded in 2011 when the Windsor and Eton Football Club went in to liquidation.

Under both guises, Stag Meadow has been used by the club for more than 100 years.

But club chairman Kevin Stott says it has not been able to negotiate a long-term lease with the Crown Estate for the past six years.

In this time, the former player says he has put £200,000 of his own money into the club, including costs for the maintenance of the ground.

The Crown Estate says longer term leases of 10 and 20 years were agreed on ‘two separate occasions’ but the terms were not signed by the club.

Mr Stott disputes this and says that, both times, negotiations broke down due to a ‘consistent pattern that we are not a priority to the Crown Estate’.

Now, the two parties have reached a stalemate as the club is in arrears of about £6,000.

The Crown Estate says it can not offer a longer lease while the club owes rent money.

Part of the dispute revolves around the Crown Estate profiting from telecom masts which are attached to floodlights belonging to the football club.

The original agreement was made with Windsor and Eton FC, with profits being split 50-50 between the club and the Crown Estate, but this agreement ceased in 2011 when the club went into liquidation.

The Crown Estate says that last year an offer to share this income was made ‘as a gesture of goodwill’, again disputed by Mr Stott.

He insists the Crown Estate should pay the club this money, which he thinks would be at least £50,000. At this point he would pay the rent arrears and resume talks.

“Given that it is volunteer run for the community, I think it is morally reprehensible,” Mr Stott said.

“I have made it very clear that as soon as there is a long-term lease on the table I will pay the rent but the reality is that they owe us more than we owe them.”

One thing both parties can agree on is they want the club to stay at Stag Meadow.

A spokeswoman for the landowner said: “The Crown Estate recognises the importance of Windsor FC to the local community and the club will not be asked to leave.

“As the tenant has now been in arrears for over a year, we are not currently able to offer a longer term lease.”

Mr Stott added: “I’m dug in now, mentally and emotionally, we are going to stay put.

“It has been very crippling. I think if we spent two to three hours in a room we could crack this out.”

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