On December 21, 2017, new investors purchased 80% of Barnsley Football Club from the Cryne Family for £ 8 million. A new holding company called BFC Investment Company Ltd was created to hold 100% of Barnsley Football Club (“Club”). As part of this investment, the Club also obtained an option to acquire 50% of Oakwell Stadium from the Cryne Family ("Option"). On January 22, 2020, the Club exercised the Option right and its investors deposited a significant amount of new capital in escrow as part of completing the transaction and to make a new significant investment in the Club in the following week.
On January 27, 2020 however, the Club, for the first time, was informed by the Cryne Family that another party had sought to enforce their own option to purchase Oakwell, which had been in existence for some time and long before the investment in 2017. This came as a shock to the Club as the purchase of Oakwell formed a significant part of the original investment and was vital to ensuring the long-term stability of the Club. Furthermore, the Option was granted in the context of incentive consideration being paid to the Cryne Family, of which £750,000 was paid to the Cryne Family through January 27th. The Club would never have agreed to the incentive consideration being payable to the Cryne Family, if the purchase of 50% of Oakwell could not be achieved.
Nevertheless, the Club has made a variety of proposals to the Cryne Family to resolve these issues in the last six months that would at the foremost protect the interests of the Club. These proposals were rejected out of hand and any settlement discussions proved fruitless. On August 12, 2020, the Cryne Family filed a claim of £ 2.75 million against the Club.
The Club will vigorously defend the claims, and its legitimate interests in respect of the Option and intend to aggressively prosecute the Club’s own claims by whatever means necessary and in the strongest possible terms. The Club has had a hard battle on and off the field in the last six months. It has fought through COVID-19, governance issues in the EFL and tough opponents on the field to remain in the Championship.
The Club will continue to fight these battles in the interests of its supporters and its long-term future by all means necessary. Since investing in the Club in 2017, the new investors have not withdrawn £1 from the Club and received no compensation as Board members. The Club want to reassure our supporters that we will fight this litigation and continue to grow the Club in a proper way.