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SBD Global/February 18, 2014/Facilities

English Football Clubs Follow EPL Side Arsenal Into Property Development

Arsenal became a property developer to help fund a $718M Emirates Stadium
Housing and new stadiums "are not obvious bedfellows," according to Blitz & Allen of the FINANCIAL TIMES. But a "booming" housing market in and around London makes a football club owner with designs on a new stadium "a surprisingly attractive partner for housing developers." League One Brentford "hopes for approval this week" from London Mayor Boris Johnson for a 20,000-seat stadium in west London, in part funded by 910 new homes. Not far away, Championship side Queen’s Park Rangers, owned by Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, "is drawing up a master plan" for a 40,000-seater ground as part of a regeneration of Old Oak Common that envisages 24,000 new homes. Both clubs "have looked closely" at what Deloitte Senior Consultant Mark Roberts calls “the Arsenal blueprint.” The EPL club in north London "became a one-off property developer" to help fund its £430M Emirates stadium. But the Arsenal scheme was a roller-coaster ride. There "were cash flow problems and then a funding gap when the housing market collapsed." Arsenal "kept a tight hold on purse-strings." It "is nearly nine years since the club won a trophy." Is QPR "prepared to take a similar commercial risk?" Its consultant, Stadium Capital Holdings, "is run by Antony Spencer, who masterminded the Arsenal scheme." Spencer: “These regeneration schemes can be highly beneficial to surrounding areas, as well as the immediate locality -- provided club owners have the foresight to recognise the opportunity" (FT, 2/17).
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