Cheshire East Council has today signed an historic deal with Macclesfield Town FC to secure the football club's future.
The deal was sealed during an urgent special Cabinet meeting at the Council's Westfield offices in Sandbach, when Cabinet members voted unanimously in favour.
A cheque for immediate funding of £285,000, drawn from the Council's capital budget, was handed over to club representatives.This has established the club as the first senior club in England to become community owned, without first becoming insolvent.
The deal means Cheshire East Council will acquire the freehold of the existing stadium and site so that the club can consolidate its debts. The football club will remain at its current home until a new stadium is built in the future.
The funding will also enable the club to convert from a limited company to a community interest company in which members of the public will be offered the opportunity to buy shares in this, making the club owned by the local community.
Leader of Cheshire East Council Michael Jones said: "This is the right result for the club, the fans and the people of Macclesfield.
"Soon the people of Macclesfield will own their very own football club and that can only be a good thing.
"The Silkmen, as the football players are known, have been a part of the town for around 130 years and we found it inconceivable that Macclesfield should lose this important part of its heritage.
"The deal, which was thoroughly investigated and is financially sound, was put together in just three days and my thanks and praise go to all the officers involved who made this happen.
"It marks a new era for the local authority and shows that we are becoming more agile in our thinking and actions, and can take informed decisions swiftly and put them into practice.
"This is the right decision and this investment will reap benefits in the future – I have no doubt about this. This is a solid asset and we are confident that this does not present a risk for the taxpayers of Cheshire East.
Macclesfield Town FC director, Barrie Darcey said today: "We are incredibly grateful to Cheshire East Council who acted swiftly and in a thoroughly professionally way to help and support us through this difficult time.
"This funding will allow us to thrive as a club now. It will also help us continue all our good work in the community, much of which goes on behind the scenes.
"We work with young and old people in Macclesfield and beyond, who need a sporting outlet. Without the support we are now receiving from the Council, countless people would be at a loss.
"As for the team, this is the news we were all hoping for and now we can all look forward to building a positive future.
"The Council's help in this process has been absolutely invaluable. Everyone at Cheshire East has been enormously helpful and we thank them for their support.
"We would now encourage everyone to get involved in the new community venture and look out for ways to buy the shares that will be on offer in the very near future."