And the issue is not over by any means.
The Butt Hall Trust issued a statement earlier today to Donegal Daily in relation to the matter.
And here Ballybofey Utd have also now issued a statement.
We have published the statement in full.
Ballybofey United FC was founded in the and was originally called Finn Rovers. At that time, the club used playing facilities at Navenny Street, Ballybofey which are now the home facilities of League of Ireland Division One team, Finn Harps FC. Finn Rovers changed its name to Ballybofey United in 1971.
Finn Harps joined the League of Ireland in 1969 and it was a condition of their participation in that league that they should have sole occupancy of their own playing pitch.
In order to ensure that Finn Harps could fulfil that condition of league membership, Ballybofey United agreed to move to its current home, Finn View Park in 1971. Finn View Park was leased from the original Butt Hall Trust in 1971 and Ballybofey United have been in continuous occupation of Finn View Park for in excess of 42 years.
The successor to the original Butt Hall Trust is the Butt Hall Trust (2006). That organisation has agreed to sell part of Finn View Park to Aldi.
By virtue of the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act, 1971 Ballybofey United is entitled to a sporting lease on the lands. Where an owner of land wants to develop the land and has secured planning permission for that development he can compel the tenant to vacate; the tenant is however entitled to compensation for giving up its sporting lease.
The Butt Hall Trust (2006) has refused to acknowledge that the football club has any rights. It claims that the club has unlawfully occupied and trespassed onto the land. They deny that the club has had continuous occupation of Finn View Park, even though this fact is widely known within the local community.
The club made numerous attempts to engage with the Butt Hall Trust (2006) but our invitations to engage in mediation were turned down. Instead, the Butt Hall Trust (2006) commenced High Court proceedings on 9th of September 2013 against the trustees of Ballybofey United seeking a High Court injunction to remove the club from Finn View Park.
The Butt Hall Trust (2006) warned the club trustees and committee that it would seek to impose costs on the individual trustees and committee members if the club did not back down.
It was never the intention of the club to continue in occupation of Finn View. The legislation was clear that the club would have to vacate to enable the owners to develop the property. We had hoped that we could negotiate a level of compensation, which would enable us to move to a new home. Unfortunately, the Butt Hall Trust (2006) refused to deal with us and we must now bring a case to the Circuit Court to secure compensation.
The High Court proceedings which were brought by the Butt Hall Trust (2006) were determined on Monday, 11th November. Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ordered that Ballybofey Football Club should leave Finn View to enable the sale to Aldi to go ahead. We must vacate Finn View by Monday 18th of November.
That, however, is not the full story.
Mr Justice Gilligan’s judgement was made in the knowledge that the solicitors for the Butt Hall Trust (2006) gave an undertaking to the Court to hold back €200,000 from any proceeds realised by the sale of the land to Aldi in order to meet any claim for damages or compensation that Ballybofey United might be entitled to.
The Judge said that he was satisfied that there is a serious issue to be tried in this case in relation to whether the club can be said to have the benefit of a sporting lease or not. The order for the club to vacate the lands was not a determination that the club has no rights. Rather, the judge was satisfied that a claim for compensation could be met by the €200,000 which was withheld.
The club must now bring its case to the Circuit Court. It is regrettable that we must litigate in this matter. We had hoped that the Butt Hall Trust would negotiate with us but they have refused to do so. One of the key objects of the Butt Hall Trust is to provide for the recreation entertainment, education and general well-being of the people of Ballybofey. It is hard to see how they are fulfilling that objective.
We will do what we have to do to keep our club alive so that we can continue to provide sporting facilities for the people and children of Ballybofey and Stranorlar.
Ballybofey United Football Club
13 November 2013