BARNSLEY Football Club have signed a new 30-year lease at Oakwell.

The council have also bought out half of Oakwell Community Assets – the company that owns Oakwell – from Jean and James Cryne, the part-owners of the club and family of previous owner Patrick Cryne.

The Crynes and the council had co-owned the ground since 2003.

The Reds’ future at Oakwell was uncertain under previous co-chairman and chief executive Paul Conway who is understood to have contacted several other clubs to discuss the possibility of groundsharing and leaving Barnsley.

He has since been ousted from the board and his replacement as chairman Neerav Parekh conducted a press conference at Oakwell alongside Jean Cryne and council leader Sir Steve Houghton.

Jean said the new deal – announced six years to the week since Patrick’s death – was what he would have wanted. Houghton hailed it a ‘major step forward’ and ‘great news for the fans, the club and Barnsley as a place.’


(When the Cryne family sold the majority of the club to Conway’s group in 2017, the stated plan was for the club to buy the ground outright.)

Parekh: “It’s pretty simple. What we’ve realised over seven years is that sometimes you can have good actors, sometimes bad. We might not be custodians forever so it’s best that the asset sits with the council and people of Barnsley. It’s the safest outcome.”

Houghton: “Speaking to Jean, her family want to protect the asset for the long-term. I am really pleased she was prepared to sit down with us.

“We’ve been through a difficult period, let’s put that behind us and get some security now. The opportunity for the town and the club is much better than it would have been otherwise.”


Parekh: “The only scenario, within the terms of this deal, in which we would leave is if there is there is another purpose-built stadium in the borough.

“That doesn’t exist right now. It’s far too early to talk about that.

“The only scenario in which that becomes a reality is if we’re in the Premier League.

“At this point it’s Oakwell and we’re very happy to be here.”

(The Chronicle understands the council would have to agree to a move to a new ground).


Houghton: “It was worrying.

“Oakwell has been here since 1887.

“It’s not just that cultural and passionate link to football, it’s a major business which attracts people from all around the country and puts Barnsley on the map. It creates huge interest in the town and employs more than 200 people, it contributes £22million to the economy and the club’s trust contributes £10m and makes a massive social impact.

“We needed to make sure those things were secure and that we gave them the opportunity to develop.

“When we heard there were threats to move the club away, this is a family audience so I can’t say my reaction, but we weren’t too pleased. We tried to engage with the previous leadership of the club but unfortunately that didn’t prove too successful. It’s great that has changed, and we have a different approach entirely.”

Parekh added: “With all the tosh that had come up about moving away from Barnsley or groundsharing, I am really glad that the club will stay here for at least three decades – ideally longer.”


Houghton: “I suspect in 30 years there will be three different faces here.

“30 years is standard for a commercial deal of this type.

“We hope those who come after us will extend it and, if we can make a success of it, I am sure extending the lease won’t be a problem. But that will be for people who come later.”


Parekh: “There is some stuff that won’t be seen but is just important to bring the stadium into the 21st century. Fuse boards, fire safety stuff and replacing the floodlights. Then hopefully there will be more fan-facing stuff but let’s take it as it comes.”

Houghton: “There may be some short-term work on maintenance. It’s not very exciting but crucial to making the ground is fit for purpose.

“We want to look at the whole area to develop it into a sporting centre – not just football but other sporting and cultural activities. There is a memorandum of understanding between the club, council and BPL (Barnsley Premier Leisure) that we will sit down and work through it in detail.

“Obviously we want to look at how we can improve the experience for fans. Whether that is the fanzone or something else, we will discuss it.

“There could be a huge complimentary series of activities to the town centre that would continue to make Barnsley a major visitor destination.

“Concerts and other sports are possible. We need to look at how we do it, the implications for local residents, costs, and return on investments.

“Barnsley town centre has a lot of great assets but it doesn’t have a particularly big venue where we can put events on. We have one here so the question is: what are those opportunities and how do we make them work?

He added: “We wanted to protect the town centre and the £250m development at the Glassworks. We didn’t want a competitive development in this part of town which could undermine that.

“In gaining control, we can ensure the town centre and the Glassworks remains successful.

“You have seen the Glassworks and what that has created, we can do that again here. Those two sites create a fantastic opportunity.”


Houghton: “It will be 30 years of income. That income could vary.

“The better the club does, the more we get. It’s in everyone’s interest the club succeeds because that gives us more money to reinvest in the facility.

“It’s not just income from the deal we’ve struck, it’s opportunities to get grants. The football industry has opportunities, and the council has the opportunity to get grants from government and other sources. I suspect, as we move forward, you will see a range of organisations getting involved.”

He added: “People will ask inevitably: what will it cost tax-payers? Part of our agreement with the club is that any income we receive as landlord is reinvested back into the site

“It is a cost neutral deal. We won’t put any additional funds in.

“But the club knows what it contributes through the lease will come back in benefits in other forms so it’s good for them, for us and the tax-payers. From my perspective, it’s a win win.”


Houghton: “As part of the due diligence we have done, we know, if we maintain the West Stand, there is at least ten years life in it. That gives us time to think about the future of that part of the ground without making any hasty judgements.”


“We have built a good relationship with the council and I hope it will get even stronger.

“A shout out to Patrick for saving the club and having the foresight put the ground in a 50/50 split.

“This has, I hope, secured its future.

“All of this is done for my hometown and the adopted hometown and loved town of our directors – Neerav, Julie Anne (Quay) and James (Cryne, her son) – James being born in Cheshire not Yorkshire...

“I really want and need to encourage all our fans to bring more supporters into the ground. We need to back the players. They need to hear the positive and let’s get rid of the negative.”


“Since the change in ownership and board, Sir Steve has been relentless in trying to repair the relationship between the council and club. I am happy it has culminated in this.

“I can’t thank the Cryne family enough. Getting a lease done in these circumstances could have been very difficult but Jean unselfishly sold her stake to the council.”