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Page last updated at 15:15 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Cambridge fans fail in Abbey bid

Abbey Stadium
Cambridge sold their Abbey home back in 2004

Cambridge United fans have failed in an attempt to buy back the club's Abbey home from landlords Bideawhile.

U's supporters group Cambridge Fans United had hoped to raise the £3.5m needed to prevent a sale to property developers Grosvenor Estates.

The club have been tenants at the Abbey since 2004, but had the right to match the terms of any potential sale and reclaim the ground.

However they were unable to raise funds ahead of the deadline of 24 March.

Cambridge sold their Abbey home to Bideawhile in 2004 for £1.9m and currently spend around £250,000 a year in rent.

It was announced at the start of the month that a deal had been agreed between Bideawhile and Grosvenor.

By the terms of the initial sale of the ground this gave the club the opportunity to match the offer and buy the ground back.

We should have been preparing for this day for the last five years, but it just hasn't happened

CFU chairman Dave Matthew-Jones

Returning ownership of the Abbey to the club is one of they key aims of Cambridge Fans United.

Chairman Dave Matthew-Jones says they did all they could to raise the capital, but in the end fell short.

"We were speaking to people who were prepared to put up the money, but in the end their wasn't enough time," he said.

Despite having reached the Conference play-off final in two consecutive seasons, the U's have struggled to finance a competitive side while meeting rent payments.

Matthew-Jones says the club should have prioritised reclaiming the ground rather than spending on the playing squad.

"We should have been preparing for this day for the last five years, but it just hasn't happened," he said.

"Only a year ago we received enough money from the Dave Kitson deal [sell-on clause] and that could have been used as a deposit."

606: DEBATE
NorfolkU

Matthew-Jones also admits he is disappointed by the lack of support the fans' bid has received from the club in recent weeks.

"The club must be happy with the terms of the Grosvenor deal as they have been very quiet in their support for our project," he said.

"They must be happy paying rent given so little effort has gone into securing the ground back."

Grosvenor have strong links with Cambridge University and recently completed the Grand Arcade shopping development in the city centre.

They are currently planning to develop a large swathe of new housing in the south west of the city close to the M11.



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