Sainsbury’s share price: Retailer wins court case over Bristol Rovers stadium

on Jul 14, 2015
Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Sainsbury’s (LON:SBRY) has won a court battle against Bristol Rovers over a deal to buy the Memorial Stadium. The supermarket group agreed to purchase the stadium for £30 million in 2011 and lease it to the club until a new 21,700-seat stadium was built to the north of the city, at which point the site would be redeveloped as a new store.

At a High Court hearing in May, Sainsbury’s argued that it had “lawfully terminated” the contract when planning conditions were not met before the “cut-off date” in the agreement. Bristol Rovers insisted, however, that there had been a “misunderstanding” about the significance of the cut-off date. Lawyers for the club countered that either the contract was “still on foot” or Sainsbury’s had breached it. “There is nothing in this agreement that stipulates, implies or requires that the cut-off date will bring about the cessation of any obligations on any party,” they noted.
The presiding judge, Justice Proudman, described the case as “extremely complex” and heard from a series of witnesses during the hearing. Yesterday, she ruled that “Sainsbury’s must succeed” because the construction of a schedule to the agreement “seems like an insuperable barrier” to the club winning the case. Nick Higgs, the chairman of Bristol Rovers, pledged to appeal, saying: “As a result of Sainsbury’s actions, the club’s future could be in jeopardy. It’s a very disappointing decision, a real kick in the teeth for the whole of Bristol.”
The dispute has also provoked strong emotions in Bristol, with fans of the club lashing out at Sainsbury’s on social media for acting like a “soul-less chain” motivated only by “big bucks”. The supermarket said that it understood that this was “a sensitive issue locally and that there will also be disappointment as a result of the court’s decision”. However, it remarked that the judge had “made no findings of Sainsbury’s acting in bad faith with the club”.
Sainsbury’s share price has risen this morning. As of 09:25 BST, the FTSE 100-listed group was trading 0.65 percent higher at 264.80p.
As of 09:57 BST, Tuesday, 14 July, J Sainsbury plc share price is 265.40p.

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