BARNSLEY FC has signed a 30-year lease which secures their future at Oakwell.
The club and Barnsley Council have announced a historic partnership which will secure football for generations at the ground.
The agreement will also see long-awaited investment into the stadium and, says the council, is an important lynchpin in a partnership which will see Oakwell become even more of a sporting centre and cultural home for the whole borough long into the future.
It will create a platform for Barnsley FC to use Oakwell for unique fan experiences and events, music concerts, corporate conferences and community activities on a regular basis for generations to come. The move also secures the future for the newly-formed Barnsley FC women’s team who will continue to play games at Oakwell throughout the regular season and beyond, as they’ve done successfully already this year.
In 2023, the council became the sole owner of Oakwell Community Assets Limited (OCAL), which owns the stadium and land around it. This followed successful negotiations with the Cryne family, who had been joint owners of OCAL with the council since 2003.
The council will now be working to further integrate the club into their town centre offer, and looking at how the club and council can work closely together for the benefit of the whole borough over the long term, ensuring the club goes from strength to strength.
A council spokesperson said: "Barnsley FC is about much more than the performances on the pitch. It contributes more than £22m to our local economy, boosts the reputation of Barnsley regionally and nationally, and, through Barnsley FC Community Trust, supports the health and wellbeing of local people. It does this through sports and cultural participation activities which support our ambition for a healthier Barnsley. The social impact of the Community Trust’s work is valued at an estimated £10m per year."
OCAL will invest in the facilities using the income generated by the agreement, which means the investment will be cost-neutral to the council.
"This is part of a long-term commitment to work together, and will support a variety of works to prolong the life of the stadium and improve the experience for supporters. Further details will be shared by the club and will be developed along with the soon-to-be-established Fan Advisory Group."
Leader of Barnsley Council, Coun. Sir Steve Houghton CBE, said: “I’m delighted we’re able to announce this fantastic news that Barnsley FC are here to stay at Oakwell.
“Barnsley FC is part of our heritage, and one of our anchor institutions with significant economic, social and wellbeing value for the borough. It’s a badge of identity for our communities, contributing to pride of place and a sense of belonging for Barnsley people.
“The council became a 50 per cent owner of Oakwell Community Assets Limited (OCAL), which owns the stadium and land around it, in 2003. This was part of a deal that saved Barnsley Football Club from going out of business at the time. That deal proved hugely successful and secured the existence of a professional football club in Barnsley.
“We’re proud to have played a key role in securing the future of professional football in the borough and we’re now proud to be taking the next step in securing that future for many years to come. This agreement helps unlock much-needed investment at Oakwell, to improve community provision and improve the experience for visitors to the club.
“Both the council and Barnsley FC acknowledge the huge contribution the late Patrick Cryne made to securing the survival of Barnsley FC, and building the successful and resilient club it is today. We’re grateful to the Cryne family for their co-operation in securing this future for Oakwell.”
Jean Cryne, an owner and director of Barnsley FCand previous joint-owner of OCAL, said: "I am pleased that the council have acquired my 50 per cent share of the stadium. This is very positive for the club and the town and I hope the fans can now feel safe in the knowledge that Oakwell is secure for the future of Barnsley Football Club.
“It’s been a tough few years – in more ways than I can begin to say – but myself and James along with Neerav and Julie Anne are doing our utmost to build on what we have achieved in this first year.
“To our supporters – please try to support the club in the best way you can by building up our fanbase. Please put the word out that we need you all, that we can’t do this alone.”
Neerav Parekh, Chairman of Barnsley FC’s board, said: “This is another step forward for the club, with the future of Oakwell now resolved. This was a key task after the reconstitution of the board just over 18 months ago – to agree a new long-term lease. We want Barnsley Football Club to remain in Barnsley, and this agreement now guarantees that.
“We also promised to repair our relationship with the town and the community of Barnsley. As directors of the Club, we’re delighted to be working hand-in-hand with the council, and would like to thank them for their support throughout this process. I would also like to thank Jean Cryne in particular, for putting the interests of the club and town at the heart of everything she does at Barnsley.
“This new agreement will open up key investment opportunities as we look to modernise Oakwell and work together with all relevant parties to maximise our combined assets for the betterment of the Club and town.”
Jon Flatman, Acting Chief Executive of Barnsley FC, said: “This is truly the best partnership for the football club and the borough. The work now starts to maximise the investment and improve the facility and the opportunities this now creates.
“I want to thank my colleague Robert Zuk and his team for their work during this process and the Cryne family alongside the board’s commitment to assuring this deal would happen.
“We will continue to work tirelessly to make sure Barnsley FC has the proper foundation to look ahead to what we believe are exciting times.”