Abbey Stadium has been home to Cambridge United fans since 1932Cambridge United

Cambridge United have announced an agreement to buy back the Abbey Stadium after selling it in 2004.

The club owner, Paul Barry, said that a deal in principle at a “very fair and reasonable price” has been agreed with the owners and should be completed by the end of summer.

United sold the stadium during financial difficulties in 2004 and have spent 18 years as tenants, at first paying £200,000 in yearly rent. In 2010, it changed hands and was bought by Grosvenor Property UK, who have since only charged a “token level” of rent.

In a letter addressed to supporters, lifelong fan Barry recalled the “hurt and pain of the Abbey sale”. He thanked Grosvenor for rent reductions and write-offs during their ownership of the stadium, saying “we all owe Grosvenor a great debt”. The purchase likely means an end to plans for a new 12,000 capacity stadium on green-belt land in Cambridge for the foreseeable future.

Barry also discussed the introduction of new structures to prevent any future sale of the stadium without fan consent. Cambridge United will be introducing a ‘Golden Share’ which aims to give fans more control over decisions at the club.

He wrote: “We would envisage a small number of representatives from different associated groups holding the Golden Share on behalf of the club, so the principle of consent is enshrined and the true interests of fans represented in any future discussions”. He continued: “We must ensure that the Abbey can never be used as a property development pawn in the future”.

This initiative is in line with the proposals of a recent government sponsored fan-led review into football, in which Cambridge United played a key role. The club wants to be a “model for other clubs at a critical point for football”, Barry said.


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The U’s leadership is equally optimistic about the club’s future, with head coach Mark Bonner believing that “we’ve got an owner and supporter who has got the very best interests of the club at heart”. Bonner steered United to League One promotion last year for the first time since 2002.

Barry has promised future investment in the stadium and also the training ground, which the club leases from Cambridge University’s Clare College. More detail on the specific nature of the ‘Golden Share’ structure is due later this year.

The Men’s and Women’s Varsity Football matches will be played at the Abbey this Sunday (13/3).