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Bootham Crescent - Monks Cross

Coming Soon - Both football at Monks Cross and the completion of this page

The Why

The wheels were put in motion for a new ground for York City in 1999 when Douglas Craig and his board of directors transferred City’s property assets, Bootham Crescent included, into a new holding company, Bootham Crescent Holdings (BCH). Effectively it split the ground and football club apart. Ostensively, it protected the club in case it fell out of The Football League.

The Land Registry noted BCH paid York City just £165,000 for Bootham Crescent.

For every share held in York City FC, the shareholder now also held a BCH share. Chairman Douglas Craig, being the largest shareholder, and the other directors held the vast majority of the shares.

At City's AGM in December 2001, Douglas Craig put a price of £4.5m on BCH for any potential buyer. It was a massive increase on the £165,000 paid for the ground just over 2 years earlier. He went on to say, alernatively, a purchaser could buy only the club, but would be forced to leave Bootham Crescent. He went on, "any parties seeking to acquire the ownership of the Football Club will be required to vacate the ground and premises at Bootham Crescent. BCH would give anyone buying just the club £1m towards paying off its overdraft and making Huntington Stadium, a local athletics ground, fit for football”. He went on, ”If no buyer comes forward by 31 March 2002, the board will resign the club's membership of the Football League on April Fools' Day as they cannot afford to keep the club going in the face of mounting debts”.

Thanks to the efforts of The York City Supporters Trust, and despite the best efforts of John Batchelor, the future of the football club was finally secured. The club secured a £2 million loan from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) to buy the ground in February 2004. The terms of this loan meant City needed to identify a site for a new stadium by 2007, and have detailed planning permission in place by 2009, to avoid financial penalties. Once plans for a new stadium were approved, the loan would turn into a grant to assist in funding the relocation. The loan was made on the proviso that a new stadium be completed within seven years, after which the £2m would be converted into a grant that will be the football club’s contribution to the new stadium.

Later Jason McGill, who assumed a majority 75 per cent shareholding in 2006 in return for providing £1m in funding to take York through to the new stadium’s scheduled opening date of 2011, said, "The FSIF have been fantastic throughout. If they hadn't provided the £2m loan then York City would have folded and probably had to start again somewhere else. Maybe even here at the old rugby stadium (Huntington), though the facilities would have been way below League standard. Without that lifeline, Bootham Crescent could have been sold. The Council probably wouldn't have given permission to build on the site while York City were still in operation. But who in their right mind was going to keep a club going and also put in what was needed with nothing on the horizon?" After the initial 2011 target date had been missed several other deadlines came and went to leave many in the city wondering if the stadium would ever be built, he added: “The FSIF could have been ruthless and said, ‘There is no sign of this being built, no matter what the Council say, and we want our £2m back. I didn't have £2m to give them. So we would have had to sell Bootham Crescent and give them the £2m back. We owe the FSIF a lot.”

As part of the agreement, Persimmon Homes had first refusal to buy the 4.4 acre Bootham Crescent site once York City leave, for 10% lower than its market value. Persimmon Homes intend to build a housing estate and the proceeds of the sale would go towards building the new stadium. In March 2008, Jason McGill noted "the annual cost of £60,000 for the maintenance and upkeep of a 1932 stadium with few commercial and income-generating opportunities" as the reason for the continued need to move to a new stadium.

The Where

The Monks Cross shopping estate dates back to the 1980s and is in Huntington, about 3 miles north of York city centre, just south of the A1237 and close to the A64 and York ring road.

Popular stores at the complex include Asda, Primark and Argos and a number of smaller outlets and restaurants, swimming pool and sports ground.

The multi purpose sports ground (Huntington Stadium) was the home of York’s rugby league side (in its different guises) between 1989 (when debts forced the sale of its Clarence Street ground) until 2014. It was never an ideal venue as it had a 6 lane running track and 2 open ends. However, it did host various regional athletics meetings (just 6 lanes prevented any significant national usage) and open air pop concerts.

In 1990, a York rugby league game saw the ground record attendance of 4,977 set, although in later years, the capacity was reduced. It must be noted that after the move from Clarence Street, there was a very short lived upturn in attendances before a steep decline, whether down to on pitch performances or location is debatable. The long standing York Rugby League club eventually folded in March 2002 due to financial difficulties which dated back to the 1980s and which had necessitated the sale of its Clarence Street ground. A new York City Knights rugby league side then played at the stadium, although they too struggled with poor attendances until moving to Bootham Crescent in 2016.

Several sites were considered for a new ground including Monks Cross. Sites at York Central (behind the railway station) and Foss Island (the old gas works) were discounted due to their city centre location and a site on the A64 to the west of York was also ruled out. The preferred option was Monks Cross, the site of a 1980s multi purpose stadium.

The new York Community Stadium is built on the site of the old ground and is part of a new complex which includes a cinema, swimming pool and shops. The stadium will be owned by City of York Council and its joint tenants will be York City Football Club and York City Knights Rugby League Football Club. The complex will also host various community concerns, including the NHS.

The capacity of the all seater stadium is 8,005 and is not dissimilar in style to many modern stadia of its size.

The What

The stadium will be all seated with a capacity of 8,005. The original plan was for a 6,000 seater stadium, but that was upscaled. An offer from Jason McGill to install safe standing, at a cost of £200,000+, was rejected by the authorities as they were unable to do the necessary in the timescales before building work started. Read More and see City's matchday programme from 1st January 2018. The content is re-produced below.

It will comprise four stands, imaginatively named the East Stand (Main Stand), the West Stand, the North Stand and the South Stand.

The 3 floored East Stand accommodated hospitality guests, players, officials and the media. It will be connected to the adjacent retail and community facilities.

The stands will stretch the length of the playing field, and each corner will host stadium facilities, including matchday emergency services, stewarding, groundsman accommodation, plant space and a fan zone. The seats will be a splatter of mainly red, blue, yellow and blue, largely a combination of the colours of both teams.

The pitch will use reinforced natural grass ("desso grass", incorporating some artificial grass on top of sand and is fairly standard these days), with provision to counter frost. The dimensions of the football pitch will be the standard 105 by 68 metres (115 by 74 yards), with 3 metre wide run offs on the sides and 6.5 metre wide run offs behind the goals, meeting FIFA recommendations. For rugby league, it will be 100 by 68 metres (109 by 74 yards), with 6 metre in goal areas, and 3 metre wide run offs on the sides and after the dead ball lines.

As well as York City and York City Knights, the community stadium project features a 13 screen cinema complex (including an IMAX screen), 5 restaurants and 3 retail units which will be run by Cineworld. Leisure facilities will incorporate a swimming pool, gym, dance studio, and a sports hall with spectator seating. NHS outpatient services will also be offered on-site from a community hub and there will be a new library. The council has also revealed (21st October 2017) that community partner agreements had been signed for the stadium complex with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and York Against Cancer, adding to the existing agreements with York City Football Club and York City Knights Rugby League Club.

The equity left from the sale of Bootham Crescent after other creditors’ claims have been met will be used to cover the loans Jason McGill has made to the club on an interest free basis (foregoing what he was entitled to under his 75% shareholding purchase agreement) to bridge the gap until the move. With these outlays including £2m to the Council, £400,000 interest to FSIF and around £200,000 to the shareholders of Bootham Crescent Holdings, chances are McGill will end up out of pocket. “I would say I have contributed around £4.5m net. If I had left in 2011 as planned with the new stadium open that would have been it. Even a delay to 2012 when we won promotion to the Football League or 2014 when we reached the League Two play-offs under Nigel Worthington would have been fine. Then I could have walked away having delivered on my original pledge of York City getting a new stadium along with promotion back to the League. But things did not work out as planned and now, with Persimmon having a 10 per cent discount, the sale is unlikely to cover what I have contributed.”

The How

When asked what the future entails for someone who had initially planned to sell up in the wake of the scheduled move to a new stadium in 2011, Jason McGill, speaking in October 2018, replied: “Moving here will be a watershed moment for me. I would certainly want to have a season here, where I can enjoy the fruits of those labours. I am 52 and this saga has been a big part of my life, what with all the trials and tribulations that happened along the way. There was the lobbying of various parties, then the meetings with everyone from the Council to the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and all the bodies that have been involved. It has been a lot of hard work, especially when I have been running my own business at the same time. I was spreading myself too thinly, and so there will be a year here. Then, after that, let’s see what happens. We all want to see York City benefit from increased crowds and the income this facility can generate. If we can dovetail that with success on the pitch, fantastic”.

It is hoped the traditional uplift in attendances at a new stadium, often around 30 per cent, will be repeated, not least because both York City and York City Knights rugby league club will benefit from all income generated when either is playing at home.

Jason McGill noted, “We hope fans will come down early, have a few beers and watch the Sky or BT game on a bank of TVs. We want to get the atmosphere going with local bands, but the original plan had no provision for a roof. That was no good as if it rains then the fans would have got wet. So, my company, and not the football club, has paid the money”. JM Packaging stumped up an extra £50,000 to cover the cost of a roof for the Fans’ Zone.

“The plan is getting to a position where the football club can wipe its face without needing extensive external investment,” McGill said about a club that lost £1.16m over the three years to June 2017, the last set of accounts available. “Personally, I feel it will be very tricky not to need some funding on an annual basis, at least early on after the move. But, certainly, the revenue this facility generates will reduce the money that will be needed. Be it JM Packaging (McGill’s company) or whoever. This will put the club on a stronger financial footing”.

It is expected there will be two non-matchdays a month, typically a Friday and Saturday night, when the Minstermen can stage events such as dinners or boxing bouts in the hospitality areas that will see all proceeds go to the club.

“The business plan is to increase the income of the football club,” added McGill. “Bootham Crescent has next to no facilities. For a start, the hospitality boxes face on to the car park. Here on the top floor there are three dining experiences. Left-hand side from the pitch is a room for 200 people, a pie and pea facility. The middle is more a carvery for 100. Then the directors dining room has scope for another 100. Something for everyone. We can also open up the whole area to make one large venue, catering for 400 at a time. At Bootham Crescent, we can probably do 50 maximum”.

Jason McGill went onto say, “The city of York is going to benefit immensely from this project. Not just the stadium, but the entire facility, from the leisure facilities to the largest cinema complex in Europe, swimming pool and a community centre with NHS Outpatients. The club couldn’t have carried on forever at Bootham Crescent. York City loses money there and has done for sometime. Of course it will be a wrench to leave. Bootham Crescent has been our home since 1932 and has some fantastic memories for all of us, good and bad. But by moving here we are safeguarding the club’s future. The original plan was to be in here by 2011. For a lot of reasons that didn’t happen. None to do with the football club. Now, though, as you look around at this magnificent facility going up you can see we are entering a new period in the club’s history. The club is protected by an agreement we have with the Council for 99 years. It means there can be no repeat of what happened in the past”.

The When / Timeline

April 2007

York City FC identified a preferred site for a new stadium but due to confidentiality clauses its location was not disclosed. By March 2008, plans with the preferred site had stalled.

May 2008

City of York Council committed to building a community stadium in for use by York City and York City Knights.

June 2009

City of York Council's outline business case approved. It was hoped to open by 2012. The search for a site was on.

June 2010

4 sites shortlisted, a 6,000 Monks Cross stadium being the preferred option, although already the opening date was now stated as 2014 at the earliest.

September 2011

Developers Oakgate (Monks Cross) Ltd submit a planning application for the community stadium and retail park.

May 2012

After much debate, the council finally granted planning permission (it was the Thursday before Luton), with the stadium expected to be ready during the 2014–15 football season. The council debate was lengthy, some arguing the development would damage the city centre economy and others that the projected £50m development costs could be better spent.

November 2012

Construction delayed until June 2014, for a completion date of July 2015.

January 2013

A further delay to the construction of the shopping park caused by the discovery of protected newts at the site caused the stadium completion date to move to January 2016.

August 2014

Greenwich Leisure (GLL) named as the preferred bidder to deliver an increased 8,000 all seater stadium, leisure complex and a community hub with construction was now due to start during spring 2015, for a completion date of July 2016. York City were given responsibility for operating and managing the stadium on an initial 13 year contract.

March 2015

Planning application for the GLL plan (submitted to the council in December 2014) passed. By now, the cost of the complex, including a replacement athletics track at another site was £37 million.

July 2015

Construction again delayed as contracts are not yet finalised and the new completion date was moved to during the 2016–17 football season.

August 2015

Construction was once again delayed. Work was now due to begin in February or March 2016, for completion due by May 2017.

March 2016

With construction costs increasing due to more detailed design work, construction inflation and delays, the cost was now put at £44.2 million. The start of construction was delayed to the summer of 2016, for completion in early 2018.

October 2016

A judicial review of the development was launched by Vue Cinemas who objected to an extra screen being approved at the site. Later in 2016, the principal contractor ISG withdrew, citing rising costs and the judicial review which was settled in the City of York's favour in January 2017.

May 2017

Still no sign of construction starting and no new contractor been found. The Buckingham Group were eventually appointed as main contractor on 11th October 2017.

November 2017

The council stated that work would begin on the stadium before the end 2017, to be opened for the start of the 2019–20 season.

4 December 2017

Construction begins. Read More

5 January 2019

Safe standing timed out. Managing Director Steve Kilmartin has confirmed that the club's bid to introduce safe standing or rail seating at the new Community Stadium has been unsuccessful. Earlier in the season, City's board of directors confirmed that the possibility of safe standing or rail seating was being explored with key stakeholders, however, writing in the official match programme, Mr Kilmartin said: "There has been a considerable amount of work undertaken by the board of directors in relation to the desire for 'rail standing (seating)' to be introduced behind one of the goals at the new stadium as we were aware this would, undoubtedly, be a popular, although expensive, decision with supporters. Potential sponsorship, in this respect, was pursued, although not ultimately forthcoming within the available time frame and the Chairman generously decided that he would fund the provision which had been determined to have a cost in excess of £200,000. There were then a considerable number of additional obstacles to be overcome as written approval was necessarily required from the Sports Ground Safety Authority and all statutory parties needed to formally reach an agreement allowing rail seating within the new stadium. Ultimately, despite the intervention of the Shadow Sports Minister and passionate pleas from the Chairman, approval was not forthcoming and an order was therefore placed for conventional seating within the stadium only hours before the deadline imposed by the intended suppliers expired. We, therefore, move forward and having seen simulated visual displays of the ground with the projected seating and lighting installed these are, without doubt, quite spectacular with modern technology being utilised within the seat design to project a greater overall image that will be to the benefit of all concerned. The intensity of these negotiations - which often resulted in flurries of e-mails, telephone calls, and letters each day attempting to reach agreements with various authorities - only demonstrated (if proof was needed) that with the new stadium now reaching an advanced stage of development, this would not have been achieved without the vision, determination and tenacity, together with substantial funding, from the Chairman over the last 15 years. Every day, we are able to see, more clearly, the progress of exterior development with the drone coverage providing spectacular views of the internal aspects including proximity of the pitch area to supporters which should provide an atmosphere football fans will enjoy during games”.

Early 2019

With plans already set for the end of the closure of Bootham Crescent in April 2019, a further delay, to later in 2019, of an unspecified length was announced.

Autumn 2019

Confirmed that construction would be completed by the end of 2019, however, at the time of writing (7th January 2020), construction work is still ongoing, albeit well advanced with both York City and York City Knights making plans to move into the new stadium within weeks.

27/Nov/19

The York Community Stadium will be renamed the LNER Community Stadium after naming rights were approved at a City of York Council session last night. A Council statement said: "The approval from the Executive Member for Finance and Performance, authorises Ian Floyd, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Customer and Corporate Services to progress the Stadium Naming Rights Sponsorship Agreement." York City Football Club are to be handed the keys to the complex once construction is complete, with test events taking place thereafter before a competitive fixture can be played in the new stadium.

08/Jan/20

At the club's Q&A, the panel noted Monks Cross was still very much a building site and that they were still awaiting the council's date for completion. Dave Penney went onto say that the test events, arranged by GLL are pencilled in (subject to stadium completion) for Jaunuary 15 (a dinner for 200 people to test ticketing, toilets and evacuation), January 19 (a junior football event for 2,000 supporters) and 26th January.

11/Jan/20

The Council released a statement which stated, "The stadium is due to be handed over on 4 February. For this to happen GLL and Buckingham need to have held a minimum of 3 test events. These are reliant on completing adequate commissioning and certification". Earlier on the same day, confirmation from one of York's junior football leagues that due to lack of any confirmation they wouldn't be able to attend and support the planned junior football event (January 19) and from elsewhere that the dinner on January 15 wouldn't be going ahead.

04/Feb/20

The Council announce test events to be staged within the next 2 months.

03/Mar/20

As City's last scheduled evening league game under the lights at Bootham Crescent kicks off, rumours mount of further delays until November for Monks Cross due to problems with the steepness of the terracing. A couple of days later, GLL told YorkMix there were no structual problems, no issues with CCTV (they said there are over 180 cameras), exit routes are fit for purpose and floodlights are of the required specification. Meanwhile, they said, "We share everyone's frustrations at this news, and are disappointed that GLL and Buckingham have not made sufficient progress to hold the required test events to enable the planned matches on 22 March. We have stressed to GLL the need for this matter to be concluded as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we continue to work with all our partners to make a success of what will be a fantastic place to support our clubs and a real asset for the community". Read Early March 2020 articles on MX stadium delays (YorkMix) and YCST Due Diligence

09/Apr/20

The City of York Council confirmed work is still continuing at the Community Stadium saying, "A small number of trades people are carrying out 'snagging' work. The York Community Leisure Complex is still a live building site but with a reduced workforce. All staff are following social distancing rules, along with enhanced cleaning regimes including hand washing, in accordance with government guidelines. The build is almost complete, but we have a small number of self-employed trades people still working (mostly on the external works) to progress the final stages of minor works, known in the industry as 'snagging'. This will continue for as long as it is government guidance to do so. This includes Buckingham's project managers. A set of test events are scheduled to be held once the stadium is complete, but these can only be held once social gathering restrictions are lifted. All certification and testing will recommence once Government allows the gathering of people to resume, but only at that point. When all contractors and partners are able to return safely to the site to fully complete the works, they will." Its good to know its "almost complete", a state its been in for a number of months.

03/Jun/20

Jon Flatman, YCK Chairman noted, "We've been having regular conversations with contractors. There are no defects at the stadium but there have been some small snagging issues that need to be resolved. We've been informed that practical completion is a matter of days and weeks away. There are then some protocols around testing to obtain a safety certificate, both for playing behind close doors and having attendances at matches".

19/Jun/20

Having visited the stadium earlier in the week, Jon Flatman, YCK Chairman noted, “The stadium was close to practical completion, as it stands, clearly the builders need to hand the building over to GLL and to the Council. Once that building is handed over, the building requires test certificates. Those test certificates require numbers of people to be able to use the facilities. At this current stage, that isn’t the case”.

29/Jul/20

Minutes, presumably from a City Of York council meeting, state Monks Cross, although "practically complete ... remains a building site. ... The construction is almost complete ... people still working ... to progress the final stages of minor works, known as 'snagging'. All certification and testing will only recommence once Government allows the gathering of people to resume".

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