Cannock's Chase Park sold for £1.45m one month after being locked up
The home of Cannock Cricket & Hockey Club has been sold for £1.45 million.
The site was bought during an online auction last night but the identity of the buyer was not revealed.
Bidding started at around £600,000 at 3.50pm before reaching its selling price at 5.46pm after a bidding war eventually came down to two potential buyers.
The Chase Park site, in Church Lane, Hatherton, was locked up by receivers last month forcing the cricket and hockey teams to train and play games at other venues.
It was described as an "exceptional lot" by digital auction platform BidX1, which described the site as follows:
"Cannock Cricket and Hockey Club, offered on behalf of fixed charge receivers, is a freehold sports ground and pavilion arranged across approximately 25 acres.
The grounds include two cricket pitches, three floodlit artificial hockey pitches (one water and two sand based), a crown green bowling green, two tennis courts and a large car park.
"The sizeable pavilion contains a bar with capacity for 270 people, changing rooms, gym, three squash courts, a restaurant and banqueting suite."
Why was the site locked up?
The ground was locked up by receivers from Duff & Phelps of London Ltd on June 26 after a dispute between developer Craig Watts Ltd and Sport England.
The wrangle centred on the length of lease being offered to the clubs as part of a proposed development to turn the under-used pavilion and bar into apartments while building new clubhouses for the cricket and hockey clubs.
Sport England, which holds a legal charge on a hockey pitch on the land, initially refused to accept anything less than a 15-year lease for the clubs while Craig Watts Ltd was only prepared to offer a 10-year lease.
Meanwhile Duff & Phelps were acting on behalf of Promontoria Pine DAC, a so-called vulture capitalist group which held a charge on the land after buying up the site’s debt from the Allied Irish Bank during the financial crisis of 2008.
The crisis stemmed from Chase Park’s long-term loan, taken out in 2008, to relay an artificial hockey pitch.
That debt was sold by the Allied Irish Bank to Promontoria during the financial crisis.
All parties insist no payments were missed but Promontoria refused to enter into a new loan agreement last year and refused an extension to the agreement to allow the dispute to be resolved, instead sending in receivers.
The site was marketed as a "great investment opportunity for the right buyer" by the auctioneers ahead of the sale.
Simon Bailey, director at BidX1, said: "There is potential for further development subject to planning and the asset offers a diverse range of amenities on fantastic well-maintained grounds.
"It is a popular site and presents an opportunity to reinvigorate a key sporting club which is a well-established part of the local community."
Meanwhile Cannock Cricket Club has raised £2,900 of its £10,000 target after launching a fundraising campaign this week.
"We need to raise several thousand pounds just to cover our costs until the end of the season let alone secure our future into next year and hopefully beyond," cricket club chairman Dave Robinson explained
"We've lost at great deal of income as we are having to pay to use other clubs' pitches and while we have been training away from our own ground, we don't have as many children coming to practice."
He added: "That means we're not getting nearly as much from subs and we would also raise much-needed funds by selling things like hotdogs and cakes from our kitchen.
"With all that being under lock and key, we can't do that and it's having a major effect on our funds."