What next for Barnsley FC after co-chairman Paul Conway confirms the club have abandoned plans to buy Oakwell

BARNSLEY co-chairman Paul Conway has confirmed that the club have abandoned plans to purchase Oakwell and intend to stay as tenants - but is not ruling out the prospect of potential relocation if the facility is not modernised.

Oakwell is jointly owned by the Cryne Family - who still retain a 20 per cent shareholding in the club - and Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council. Both hold a fifty per cent stake.

Back in January 2020, the club's majority shareholders exercised an option to buy the Cryne family's stake, but subsequently raised a number of concerns in relation to that option.

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Since then, no significant headway has been made regarding the purchasing of Oakwell by the club's majority shareholders, who believe that their ability to boost revenue streams is stymied by the lack of modern facilities at a ground which they do not own.

Barnsley FC co-chairman Paul Conway.

The club have pledged to continue to talk with the council regarding tenancy and rental terms.

Conway said: "Last year, during the pandemic, the investment group put in millions into escrow as part of buying the stadium. Our goal was buying the stadium and a big part of the reason why we invested in the club.

"Simply, we cannot get clean title on the ground. Similar to if you are renting a house and you want to purchase that house, you want to get clean and clear title on it. And we can't - and we can't get title insurance either.

"So the club has abandoned the attempt to purchase the ground, so we are a tenant here. We have gone to the town (Barnsley MBC) similar to what our plan was to rehabilitate the ground and have some capital investment and really bring it up to modern standard and we have offered to extend our lease as part of it.

"We have had some feedback and there is a bit of a difference on what both parties want.

"The goal is obviously to stay here, but we need to really turn this more into a modern, all-year facility. We had plans on sports bars and modern hospitality that is good for the club and community and creates jobs and it is a good project for the upcoming season."

Due to the inability to reach a satisfactory conclusion regarding the ground issue, Barnsley have previously tentatively contacted other EFL clubs regarding potential groundshare options, but they insist that the primary 'goal' is to stay at Oakwell,

Conway continued: "If we are caught in a situation where we cannot use the ground without not getting a (stadium) licence, we have to keep alternatives out there, that is the right thing to do for any football club, but the goal is to stay here.

"We still have six years to go on it (Oakwell lease). We need to generate mote revenue which allows us to be more competitive.

"Some of our revenue generation is limited by the facilities and all the supporters will know that. We are working with the Council and hope it comes to a good resolution, but need to see some capital improvements. We were willing to put it in ourselves, but could not get clean title on it.

"The (ground) owners need to help support that.

"The goal is to be here. But part of the ground also has to be modernised. Impact on revenue is impacted by the ground and capital improvement and we need that investment from the (ground) owners as it's really important long-term for the club.

"It is not the right thing for the club to purchase the ground, spend millions in renovations if we cannot get clean title on it, so we have abandoned that idea.

"We have spent a good part of last year on this and tried everything possible and have got to five different title insurers and none of them will insure the title. We cannot invest without the certainty that the title is not clean. We have given up because we cannot get third party title insurance on it.

"It's just like if you are buying your house. You are happy renting the house and then you say: 'you know what, I am going to buy it.' But you cannot get clean title on it. Why would you buy it?"

Separately, the Cryne family took legal action last August against the club's majority shareholders regarding £2.75m in unpaid installments from the club's sale in late 2017. The litigation is ongoing.

"It is still in process, but there is nothing to report," Conway said.