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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Saints accept Ikea offer

Cash-strapped League One newcomers Southampton have reluctantly agreed to sell their St Mary's Stadium to furniture giants Ikea but will be allowed to play next season's home fixtures in the superstore.

The Saints went into a financial tailspin last term and were unable to avoid a 10-point penalty that sentenced them to the third tier of English football for the first time in 50 years.

A number of potential takeovers have failed, including one led by former luxury player Matt Le Tissier, but now Ikea have pounced on the business opportunity.

The Swedish company have bought St Mary's and will turn it into one of its trademark furniture mazes. However, Southampton will still be allowed to play their home games on the site on a pitch marked out between the 'Secondary Storage' and 'Small Storage' aisles.

And the club now have the green light from the FA. After a lengthy review the plan was adjudged not to be in contravention of Article 3b - 'No club's home ground may also be a supermarket or zoo.' 

Southampton's youth players have already begun training in the existing Ikea store on West Quay Road in order to acclimatise.

"I'm really impressed with the way the lads have dealt with the conditions," Under-18's boss Stewart Henderson declared. "One of the boys bashed himself up on a BjΓΌrsta, but otherwise it's been very positive."

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