Raiders’ future uncertain after bailiffs repossess rink

Wightlink Raiders’ future is once again up in the air after bailiffs moved in to repossess Ryde Arena.

Operators Ryde Arena Ltd (RAL) took over the rink in April 2015 and agreed to pay an annual rent of £130,000 to investment firm AEW Europe, which operates on behalf of the leaseholder, Bank of New York Mellon.

The group had been trying to negotiate a reduced rent to compensate for unrepaired storm damage, which had left it unable to run many of the internal income-generating facilities.

The Raiders have cancelled Saturday’s NIHL1 South Cup game at home to Streatham IHC, but will travel to face London Raiders as planned on Sunday.

Forward Corey Watkins said: “The whole team, their kit’s inside there. We’ve got games this weekend.

“We’re meant to be playing and we’re meant to be practising tonight, so I guess that’s not happening. There’s a couple of thousand pounds worth of kit in there. It’s not looking good.”

Chairman Ian Jenkins said RAL had paid around £20,000 in rent, but claimed the leaseholder’s failure to refurbish part of the interior which was damaged by storms in November 2015 had cost his firm £100,000 in lost income from the bar, cafe and offices.

In a statement on Ryde Arena’s Facebook page the group hit out at the leaseholder, claiming they had contravened their own lease responsibilities by not carrying out the work needed.

“RAL have argued that as we have no access to the bar, cafe and other large office areas a reduced rent should be sought to compensate for the loss of secondary income which underpinned our business plan,” it read.

“RAL, its loyal staff, ice rink users, fans and wider community have made every effort to keep this much needed facility open. RAL are bitterly disappointed with this decision made by AEW Europe and BNY Mellon.”

Rachel McIsaac, Head of Asset Management AEW UK Core Property Fund, confirmed RAL’s lease on the facility had been terminated.

“Since Ryde Arena Limited took a full assignment of Planet Ice’s lease in Spring 2015 they have been unable to meet the rental obligations due under the lease and have accumulated very significant arrears,” said McIsaac.

“We have a fiscal responsibility to our pension fund unit holders to create a sustainable, long term use for the building that will also benefit the local community and visitors to the island.”

BIH understands negotiations are still ongoing in the hope a resolution can be found.

(Image permission: Nicky Craft)

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