Barnsley is inquiring about shared land use with several EFL clubs amid concerns about their current Oakwell stadium, where a grandstand is already closed.
The Tykes reportedly contacted Bradford City earlier this year about the prospect of a possible ground stake at Utilita Energy Stadium, also known as Valley Parade.
That’s with the championship outfit hierarchy, which last season discussed the potential for formal conversations with the bantams, according to the Yorkshire Post. Still, nothing happened.
In January it was also announced through the same publication that Barnsley had also spoken to another Yorkshire club at Rotherham United last season about whether it would be possible to become part of a groundsharing project.
In addition, during the 2020-21 season, the Tykes reached out to other Football League clubs – two of them from Lancashire – about the possible hosting of the club’s games, with talks continuing on their long-term future at Oakwell.
In August, co-chair Paul Conway confirmed that the club had instead abandoned plans to buy the site to stay as a tenant, but didn’t rule out the prospect of moving if the site couldn’t be modernized.
Last month, the club made a controversial decision to close the 130-year-old west stand to spectators until further notice due to safety concerns and problems with audience management.
The move caused a problem for the 1,000 fans who had already bought a season ticket for this stand this season. One number was made to move to other parts of Oakwell while others requested a refund.
The Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, which owns a 50% stake in the stadium along with the Cryne family, has expressed disappointment with the club’s decision to close the west stand and said the facility will require a two-month inspection by the local Authority passed before September.
The club has emphasized that its main objective is to stay in Oakwell and with that in mind, positive conversations have recently been had with Barnsley MBC officials as it should be.
Barnsley’s hierarchy says they are committed to a positive relationship with the council going forward.
As early as January 2020, the club’s majority shareholders were working on a possible half-way stake in Oakwell owned by the Cryne family – who still hold a 20% stake in the championship outfit – but subsequently abandoned a number of concerns.
Speaking of the Oakwell situation in late summer, Conway said, “If we get into a situation where we can’t use the ground without getting a (stadium) license, we have to keep alternatives out there. That’s right for any club, but the goal is to stay here.
“We still have six years (Oakwell leasing). We have to generate more income to be more competitive.
“Some of our income is limited by the facilities and all supporters will know that.
“We are working with the council and we are hoping to find a good solution, but we need to see some capital improvements. We were ready to put it in ourselves but couldn’t get a clean title for it.
“Last year, during the pandemic, the investment group deposited millions into an escrow account as part of the purchase of the stadium. Our goal was to buy the stadium and a big part of the reason we invested in the club.
“Simple, we can’t get clean titles on site. Much like when you rent a house and want to buy that house, you want to get a clean and crisp title on it. And we can’t do that – and we can’t take out legal expenses insurance either.
“So the club gave up trying to buy the site, so we’re tenants here.”
Twitter users responded with reports that Barnsley sought property with multiple EFL clubs over Oakwell concerns …
@JoeBeardsall: The idea of Barnsley playing in Bradford is just utter nonsense in my opinion, it’s just not going to happen. We fans wouldn’t go. Glad it sounds like the owners and council are now trying to come up with the best solution, this is the right way to go. Oakwell is our home!
@DrZazlos: It’s insane Joe. But summarize our owners. I know you talked to them and I respect your opinion, but in this cutthroat world I wouldn’t trust them to take a bath 😡
@ shaunkirton1: For fear for our club this board is tearing it apart now sorry Joe, but they didn’t take care of our club now you’re ripping my heart out
@neilmeynell: it’s just brinkmanship. Both sides need to stop peeing at the club and move on.
@ SDicko83: I think it’s best all round if the Crynes sell and give advice too
@ The_Vman_v2: I love how they play hardball but still have to pay for the club while they supposedly skim the top. Only billionaires who haven’t invested a penny. THE END