Rio Ferdinand’s affordable housing company Legacy Foundation remain keen to help safeguard the future of non-league club Dulwich Hamlet after seeing a near £10million offer for their Champion Hill ground rejected.
Former England defender Ferdinand grew up in nearby Peckham, South London, before going on to enjoy a successful professional career with West Ham, Leeds and Manchester United, then finishing his career at QPR.
The 39-year-old helped establish the Legacy Foundation, along with West Ham midfielder Mark Noble and former Irons striker Bobby Zamora, which aims to look for innovative ways of delivering social and affordable housing.
Bostik Premier Division side Dulwich Hamlet have found themselves facing an uncertain future following a dispute between Southwark Council and land owners Meadow Residential over scraped redevelopment plans for the south London site.
As tenants at Champion Hill, the football club are not able to retain all income from gate receipts and bar revenue, which has seen them seek donations to help pay salaries.
In December 2017, Legacy Foundation made an offer, which Press Association Sport understands to be close to £10million, to buy Dulwich Hamlet’s ground from current owners Meadow Residential. That offer, though, was not accepted.
Legacy Foundation, which has also put forward proposals under a joint venture with Wirral Council as part of its dockside regeneration scheme, believe they could work alongside Southwark Council to help deliver a compliant scheme, while also protecting the long-term future of the club with the freehold purchase of the Champion Hill ground.
A sources at Legacy Foundation told Press Association Sport they remained determined to move things forward.
“We are super keen to get going as quickly as possible, but we need traction from Meadow,” the source at Legacy Foundation said.
Southwark Council has a target of 35 per cent affordable housing in any new developments.
Meadow Residential had proposed to build 155 flats as well as a new stadium for Dulwich Hamlet, but they were rejected, with Southwark Council refusing to to release a key section of adjoining land on Greendale Fields.
A letter to Southwark Council’s planning department on October 20, 2017, which was submitted on behalf of Meadow Residential, said the “stance that has been taken by the council generally is extremely disappointing due to the impact of the deliverability of housing at the future of DHFC.
“Without the ongoing support of the council our client’s continuing intervention is, with regret, futile.”
Meadow Residential have been contacted for further comment.
Southwark Council maintain “all options” are being explored to help Dulwich Hamlet.
Leader of Southwark Council Peter John said in a statement released to Press Association Sport: “This ongoing saga with Meadow is really frustrating and upsetting for the thousands of supporters of Dulwich Hamlet FC, and every day that goes past without a resolution further jeopardises the future of the club.
“The council is in constant contact with them and we are exploring all options to help them out of their current predicament, including seeking alternative sites for them to use while the issues in Dulwich are resolved.
“It’s a huge shame that Meadow have refused to work with both the Council, and Rio Ferdinand’s Legacy.”