Walsall Council leader: We won’t rule out buying Banks's Stadium
A council leader has said he would not rule out his authority buying Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium.
The future of Walsall Football Club’s home has been the subject of speculation over recent years, with the club understood to be willing to discuss a potential sale.
Mike Bird, who took over as Walsall Council leader following the local elections, said taking on the stadium could be an attractive proposition.
The authority came under fire when it bought the Saddlers shopping centre last year for £13 million when run by Labour.
But Councillor Bird said the football ground – which it is believed was last valued at around £6m – would make more financial sense.
It comes after Saddlers fans won a bid to protect the Banks’s Stadium after being granted legislation to list the building as a community asset last month.
Councillor Bird, who leads the Conservative-controlled council, said he had previously held talks with Walsall owner about the possibility of the council buying the stadium.
He said: “I have had that conversation on many occasions with Jeff Bonser.
"The income on the Banks’s Stadium would be a far better option than buying a retail centre.
“There are always choices and the choices we make is what people measure us on. But it is not on the agenda at the moment.”
Pressed on the possibility of it being on the agenda in the future, Councillor Bird said it ‘could be’.
The application for the asset of community value made by Walsall Football Supporters Trust was approved by Walsall Council and means the group must be notified if the ground is to be sold.
They will then have six months to put together their own bid for the stadium.
The Banks’s Stadium, also known as Bescot Stadium, is owned by Walsall chairman Jeff Bonser.
He bought the freehold for the ground and the surrounding land through his pension fund.
A spokesman from Walsall FC said: “Walsall Football Club would welcome discussions with Walsall Council over the sale of the freehold of the Banks’s Stadium.
"As a community focused club we believe, if the freehold is to be sold, it would be beneficial to keep ownership within the borough and in-turn safeguard the long-term future of the club.”