The Butt Hall Trust got an injunction in the High Court yesterday forcing Ballybofey United to leave the pitch in the town.
The club claims to have been using the pitch since 1971.
However in a statement to Donegal Daily this evening the Trust insisted it has acted within its rights.
“The Butt Hall Trust welcomes the decision of the High Court yesterday restraining Ballybofey United Football Club from trespassing on Trust lands at Chestnut Road, Ballybofey which they currently occupy without permission. This will allow the Trust to honour its obligations under a Contract for the sale of part of the lands concerned to a third party, namely Aldi,” said the statement.
“It has been widely reported following the judgement that these lands have been continuously occupied by the Club for a period in excess of 40 years. While this is the Club’s claim, it is contested- as the judgement also states.
“The position of the Trust is that the Club’s current occupation of the lands derives from an approach made in 2005 when the Club sought permission to use the lands for a temporary period of years pending its move to a site in Stranorlar- as part of the proposed new Finn Harps development there. The arrangement was also on the basis that the Club would vacate the lands on Chesnut Rd., when sold. The Club has enjoyed the facility without charge in the intervening 8 year period which is already considerably longer than was envisaged at the time- due to delays in the completion of the Stranorlar project.
“The facility granted was not unusual and the Trust in the past would have assisted various local groups and Clubs where it could.
“The Club also made a separate decision in October of last year seeking to acquire its own site for development (independent of the proposed Finn Harps Stranorlar development) and approached the Trust to purchase a plot on separate Trust lands at Glencovitt, Ballybofey. In a letter at that time, the Club expressed its delight when the Trust agreed in principle to sell those lands to them for the price as offered.
“The Trust was then very surprised when in April of this year the Club refused to move off the Chestnut Road site. In response to a request to move to allow the Aldi sale be concluded, the Club for the very first time claimed it had been in continuous occupation of same since 1971; denied the permissive arrangement agreed in 2005 and claimed they were entitled to outright ownership or in the alternative a sporting Lease of those lands. The Trust then engaged with the Club in the months following to seek a resolution of the matter and to avoid the significant cost of proceedings. However with the Club still refusing to vacate and the imperative of completing the binding contract with Aldi, the Trust were regrettably left with no option but to institute the proceedings.
“However the Trust bears no ill will towards the members of Ballybofey United and hopes that the Club can ultimately realise its objective of securing a permanent home. While the Trust have always been prepared to assist them in that regard, the initiative for this lies with the Club and parties other than the Trust. In the meantime as there are issues that remain to be determined in the proceedings, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
The club is taking a separate legal case against the Trust.