Barnet chairman Tony Kleanthous has released a damming statement regarding Saracens much publicised multi-million pound plans to relocate to the Copthall Stadium and accuses Barnet council of going against the Local Government Act.
The Bees’ chairman says the Act states that the council must obtain the best value for any site it disposes of in the borough.
The statement also accuses the council of using delaying tactics and claiming there was no land for Barnet to build a new stadium on while they were agreeing to go ahead with the plan for Sarries to relocate.
Sarries originally wanted to move to Copthall in time for the start of this season but have since been delayed and will play home matches at Vicarage Road for at least the first half of the season.
In a statement on the Barnet website, he said: "It is quite clear they want to push football out and move rugby in. Despite Barnet FC having more than 120 years of history as a community club in the area, they seem to want to clear us away.”
The statement continues: “The football club had an application for a new stadium at Copthall almost ready to go before the Planning Committee but the council would not provide the club with the land assurances needed.
The club now realises this was because they had already committed to give the site away to Saracens, who want to take over Barnet FC's home turf.
“Saracens have been offered a virtual freehold for the multi acre stadium site at Copthall for free; Barnet FC have been asked for more than £200,000 just to renew the lease of their 5 - acre cricket club site to the south of Underhill.”
Barnet’s application to move to Copthall was turned down ten years ago by John Prescott ten years ago after Barnet Council and Ken Livingstone, leader of the Greater London Council at the time, had given approval.
Kleanthous added: “Life has become very difficult since Mike Freer left as Leader of Barnet Council to become an MP. To compound matters we also have Saracens regularly approaching our sponsors and commercial partners driving money out of Barnet FC and the local Barnet community.
“In the last few months the club has sent legal letters to Barnet Council, to which they have yet to receive a full response, and have lobbied the London Mayor's Office. The Mayor seems very well informed and has a good grasp of the importance of a community based sports club like ours, we hope we can rely on his officers' intervention to prevent this appalling situation from going any further."