South West Wales

Swansea City FC agree deal to lease Liberty Stadium

Liberty Stadium Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Swansea council built the stadium which opened in 2005 at a cost of £27m

Swansea City FC has agreed to lease its Liberty Stadium home after securing a deal with the council.

The Swans will pay the authority £300,000 a year for 37 years, give it a cut of stadium sponsorship revenue and build 3G pitches in the city.

The club and the Ospreys rugby region have played at the £27m venue since 2005, paying a nominal rent to the management company running it.

Swansea council's cabinet should rubber-stamp the deal on 16 November.

It will retain ownership of the stadium and the Ospreys will continue to play there.

"We've moved from a position where the taxpayer in Swansea was getting zero from this asset," said council leader Rob Stewart.

"This gives the taxpayer a fair deal, it gives the Swans and the Ospreys a fair deal in this fantastic theatre where they can realise their dreams."

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Media captionChris Pearlman says expanding the Liberty Stadium is necessary

The agreement will allow the Swans to explore more commercial opportunities.

That could include stadium naming rights and a possible expansion of the ground, which currently holds 21,000 spectators.

The club's chief operating officer Chris Pearlman said: "Our gut feeling is we can sell more tickets.

"What's important to us is making sure we put in the right number of seats and we do it in the most cost-effective manner as possible."

However, the Swans are struggling on the pitch and are back in the Premier League's relegation zone after narrowly avoiding the drop last season.

'Balancing act'

Mr Pearlman said the Swans' struggles would be taken into account in any decision but the work was "necessary" and would help the club grow financially.

"We'd be foolish to ever move forward with an expansion without contemplating we may some day not be in the Premier League," he said, adding the decision is a "balancing act".

Any naming rights deal for the stadium could tie in with expansion work, which would still require planning permission.

Ospreys chairman Roger Blyth called the news positive.

He said: "It gives us full control over our own destiny, releasing us from any future stadium liabilities.

"This provides clarity and certainty on both future income and expenditure, enabling us to plan for the medium and long term with security."

Analysis by Rob Phillips, BBC Wales' football correspondent

The stadium lease makes sense for Swansea City - providing they conquer the more immediate challenge of staying in the Premier League.

The whole progress of the club is built on the foundation of remaining in the richest top flight league in world football.

Forget increasing stadium capacity if Swansea are relegated.

And despite parachute payments for relegated clubs, the sides in the Championship earn nowhere near the sums enjoyed by those at the foot of the Premier League.

Last season Swansea earned more than £103m for finishing 15th.

The stadium can be a big benefit commercially - providing it is the stage for Premier League football.

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