Newport and District Agricultural Society owns the Old Showground off Forton Road and has now agreed a new 99-year lease with Newport Rugby Club, which plays on the land. The club has paid an up-front lease premium of £200,000 and afterwards will be able to use the grounds rent free.
The club has played rugby on the society’s property under various arrangements since the 1940s but the current lease was due to expire in 2029, which led to some uncertainty about the future arrangements.
Each party agreed years ago that a longer term solution would be better for everyone, so a surveyor was appointed and the club set about raising the money.
Peter Maher, the club’s chairman, said: “We are delighted that the deal has now been completed. Securing a long term arrangement at the Old Showground is crucial to the survival and development of the club.
"It has been a mammoth effort by many in the club over a number of years to raise the lease premium through fundraising events, donations and a debenture scheme.
“Although current activities had been curtailed by Covid-19, now that the club’s position is secure, the town can look forward with confidence that we will continue to improve the club’s facilities and provide an opportunity for the Newport community to enjoy everything the club has to offer both on and off the pitch.
"We believe signing this lease is an embodiment of our club ethos of 'Community, Pride, Passion'.”
Tony Asson, the agricultural society’s chairman of trustees, said: “The deal is excellent for both parties.
"The connection between the society and the club extends over 70 years and it’s remarkable to think that this now has at least 100 more years to go.
"Goodwill was required by all involved to jump the various legal hurdles that appeared from time to time and we have had to show an unbelievable degree of patience to ensure the deal was eventually completed."
He said that the society would be using the proceeds generated to develop its own charitable activities and fund the conservation of the nearby Chetwynd Deer Park.
As well as the club's rugby matches, the Old Showground hosts events throughout the year including the popular bonfire and fireworks display in November.