4 November ~ Yeovil Town recently followed Port Vale into a commercial deal with Blue Sky International, an American supplier of artificial pitches. On the face of it, a £1.25 million investment should be good news, but many supporters are concerned about what the club is getting into. The arrangement will include Yeovil going on a pre-season tour to the US for each of the next ten years. This doesn't seem to have much benefit as the Yeovil brand has obvious limits Stateside and the club can't even market itself on its own doorstep to revive dwindling attendances. Given that perennial team rebuilding leaves us short of players every summer, such a commitment could become a chain around a manager's neck.
The main investment of £750,000 is for new training pitches. As these will be partly for community use, the club will also apply for grant funding to cover some of the construction costs. The land around the Huish Park stadium that incorporated the previous pitches has been separated from the football business into a new company called Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd (as discussed previously in WSC last August ). It will now form part of a proposed retail development adjacent to the ground in a joint venture with a company called the Range Group.
That development faces a mountain of obstacles, which make it appear doubtful it will ever materialise. Blue Sky's arrival might divert attention from the lack of progress on the retail project, but they don't seem to be long-standing traders or prominent in their field. They have pledged a much larger amount to Port Vale, including buying a share of the club. It is unclear, however, why Blue Sky would want to link up with two low-profile clubs without obvious sponsorship appeal.
With the team at the bottom of League One, Yeovil are now experiencing a succession of record low attendances almost game-by-game, with supporters fed up with an uncommunicative board. All this is overshadowed by the club yielding much of its land to Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd and the potential risk that it could lose its biggest asset. This is significantly worrying as the land has been separated without safeguards such as those Brentford have in place through their Supporters Trust. The big concern for the remaining support that hasn't voted with their feet and sought alternative things to do on a Saturday is that the club's health is floundering while the owners pursue a development that seems unattainable. Barry Wood