Liberty Stadium sale to Swans would not affect Ospreys - backer

Liberty Stadium
Swansea's Liberty Stadium is owned by the local council and leased to Swansea City and the Ospreys rugby region.

Ospreys backer Robert Davies says the possibility of Swansea City buying the Liberty Stadium would have no effect on the rugby region.

The stadium is used by the Swans and Ospreys, and Davies said there is a 50-year agreement in place for shared use of the facility.

"As far as I'm aware it's at a very, very preliminary stage," he said.

"It would have no affect whatsoever [on Ospreys] because the lease that's in place, the agreement with the Ospreys, is there for 50 years.

"There's 40 years left and that cannot be changed. It has no effect at all on the playing ability of the Ospreys to be at the Liberty Stadium."

The ground is owned by Swansea City council, with the two sports organisations sharing the facility through a 50-year lease.

Davies, who also holds shares in the football club, believes an outright purchase would enable Swansea City to further develop the stadium and sell naming rights.

The businessman was a founder of Liberty Properties PLC, the company that has lent its name to the stadium since 2005.

How the ground currently looks and how it will look after the expansion
How the ground currently looks (top) and how it could look after expansion

In a statement released before Davies spoke to BBC Radio Wales Sport, Swansea City Football Club said: "The football club is always exploring development options on and off the field, including the proposed stadium expansion, but no formal talks have so far taken place with the council regarding any imminent outright purchase of the Liberty Stadium."

A Swansea Council spokesperson commented: "No formal talks have taken place with the Swans but we'd welcome such a discussion, if approached.

"Any potential sale of the Liberty Stadium in future would need to realise best value and also provide for the best interests of the Ospreys as the stadium's other users."

In January, 2014, Swansea council granted planning permission for the football club to increase the stadium's capacity from just under 21,000 to 33,000.

At the time the council imposed a condition that a liaison group be set up comprising of councillors, the [football] club and members of the local community.

Davies said the way the stadium is managed is a co-operation between the council and the two sports clubs.

"The council own the freehold, but there is a 50-year lease from the council to a company called Stadco which is jointly owned equally by the Ospreys, the football club and the city council," he said.

"And each of the football club and the rugby club have an operating lease for 50 years to run their businesses from the stadium."

"[The council's] investment [in Liberty Stadium] doesn't produce any income for them so they may think it better to realise some capital.

Liberty Stadium - the facts
Opened: October 2005
Who plays there? Swansea City FC and Ospreys rugby region
Capacity: 20,520
Who owns it? Swansea council holds the freehold; Swansea City & Ospreys are leaseholders

"It's something that the Swans are obviously interested in because they are in the process of considering the expansion of the stadium to take up the additional demand that's currently in place for Premier League football in Swansea."

Davies also believes there is considerable potential to raise money from the naming rights at the ground.

"We've seen some huge deals done by the likes of Arsenal and other clubs in the Premiership.

"But quite frankly at the moment the ownership of the stadium is fairly neutral.

"It doesn't provide any financial benefit to the owners.

"All it does is provide a playing facility for the Ospreys and the Swans.

"So therefore from a financial viewpoint it's fairly neutral, but, of course, it [a possible stadium freehold purchase] removes any difficulties that there may be in expanding this stadium.

"Because the Swans, if they did own it, would be able to expand it with, obviously, the approval of the Ospreys as well.

"And to date the Ospreys and Swans have agreed everything and worked very well together."

Davies doubts a deal will be done in the current council financial year, which ends on March 31.