Belfast Telegraph

Purplebricks and Larne FC owner do £117k deal to buy ground from council

Larne FC has entered a new era after owner Kenny Bruce bought Inver Park
Larne FC has entered a new era after owner Kenny Bruce bought Inver Park
Kenny Bruce
Council chief executive Anne Donaghy
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

The sale of football ground Inver Park to Larne FC and its multi-millionaire backer Kenny Bruce for more than £100,000 completes today.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council listed the ground for sale in February and entered into negotiations with the club, which is now owned by the co-founder of online estate agent Purplebricks.

The ground, which has been home to Larne FC since 1918, was sold to the club for £117,500 and is subject to covenant prohibiting the use of the land for anything other than sports or recreational purposes.

Mr Bruce, who set up Purplebricks with his brother Michael, set up a charity for the purchase.

He said: "We are delighted our charity's offer to purchase Inver Park has been accepted and now finalised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. We have been very impressed by the support we have received from the local authority for our project to create first-class sports facilities at Inver Park for the Larne people. 

"We set up a charity to purchase Inver Park and the trustees will hold that asset for the Larne people so that it remains a centre for sporting excellence for hundreds of years to come.

"Attention now is on investment works on a new 4G playing surface and floodlights for the start of 2018-2019 season." 

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The council - led by chief executive Anne Donaghy - said ground renovations, including the grandstand extension, the addition of a new playing surface and new floodlights had started.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Lindsay Millar said: "This is a positive step forward for both Larne FC and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Kenny Bruce and his team set out ambitious plans for the venue and a fantastic vision for the future of Larne FC and the community."

It's not clear how many other offers were received, but the council said that "offers received were evaluated against the conditions of sale and negotiated process was entered into to ensure best value was obtained for council and its citizens".

According to the Sunday Times Rich List, setting up Purplebricks has helped the Bruce brothers amass a £190m fortune. The boys grew up in Larne after their parents' divorce.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph last year, Mr Bruce said: "I am very much in love with Larne, it's the place where I grew up.

"I played schoolboy football at Inver Park and grew up watching Larne as a fan.

"My grandparents and mother were born and bred there... I feel working with the football club would be a great opportunity to give something back."

Belfast Telegraph