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Uncollected: Council’s £1m football transfer fee

Clause suggests Camden is still due money from Barnet FC's stadium deal

21 August, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Barnet’s Hive Stadium

CAMDEN Council is still investigating whether it is due a £1million football transfer fee from the sale of playing fields – three years after they were sold off to make way for a new soccer stadium.

With the Town Hall’s ability to chase down payments it is owed under scrutiny, it was confirmed yesterday (Wednesday) that Camden has yet to receive any money for the Prince Edward Playing Fields in Edgware.

It is now home to Barnet FC, the professional football club which narrowly missed out on a return to the football league in this year’s play-offs, and its stadium, The Hive.

The site was once part-owned by Camden and used by the borough’s schools, who would bus children there for PE lessons and sports events. In 2001, the ownership was transferred to Harrow Council but a sell-on clause in that deal was supposed to mean Camden would get 50 percent of any future sale.

The land was sold to Barnet FC in 2017 for £2 million as the club looked for a new home, but there is no record of Camden receiving its £1million share from the sale.

The council responded to our investigation last January saying they were examining the details. Harrow East MP Bob Blackman, a Tory, had told the House of Commons that “Camden has only just woken up to the fact that it owned the site and that it should be entitled to some funds were the site to be sold.”.

Last month, it was revealed on John Gulliver’s diary page in the New Journal that Camden may have missed out on millions of pounds in overage payments from a developer at the site next to Talacre Gardens, raising questions on how money owed to the council is tracked. One Barnet supporter who saw that coverage urged us to check whether Camden would ever get the money due for the playing fields.

Camden’s finance chief Labour councillor Richard Olszewski said:  “The council is still in the process of examining how the complex agreements transferring the land from Camden to Harrow in 2001 should be interpreted and whether, ultimately, Camden is owed money for the sale of this land.

“However, I’d like to reassure residents that the council is continuing to work to conclude this and will always seek to recover money that is proven we are owed where it is in the interest of our taxpayers and the services we provide.”

He said “valuable lessons” had been learned from the Talacre case and that “overage clauses are no longer structured in this way”.

Cllr Olszewski said Camden now had some of the “toughest policies in the country” to ensure developers were required to provide affordable housing.

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