Vendors have received more than 20 offers for the High Lane venue, but a group trying to save the club is preparing a legal challenge to suspend any sale pending assurances that members can vote on the resulting disposal.
Trustees of the Chorlton Irish Club put the club’s home – a two-storey building off High Lane and Cross Road in the Manchester suburb – up for sale in April, with Colliers International marketing the property. The deadline for bids is this Thursday.
However, three individuals including two club members, are being advised by Farley’s Solicitors with a view to blocking the sale until information can be provided to all members on the offers that have been received in recent months, and how any sale proceeds would be managed and used.
Friends of Chorlton Irish Club, a group campaigning to ensure the future of the venue, said the two offers it is privy to would result in the club being saved, including one from housebuilder Hillcrest Homes.
Under Hillcrest’s proposal, ownership of the venue would transfer to a community interest company set up by the members, and would be run on a not-for-profit basis for the benefit of the community. Hillcrest would only build homes on the 60-space car park that forms part of the site.
However, members of the campaign group fear that other bids could result in the demolition of the club and subsequent redevelopment of the entire site into housing.
A statement from Friends of Chorlton Irish Club said there was “huge anxiety” about the potential loss of the venue, which opened in 1960. “The obvious fear is that on, or shortly after, this Thursday, the entire site will be sold leading to demolition of the club.
“We call upon the trustees to halt the sale process and give the club’s members details of the offers. The matter should then be put to a members’ vote. Otherwise they risk killing off a big part of the community’s heritage and the possibilities it holds for future generations”, the group said in a statement.
The club was designated an asset of community value last year by the council, and, as a result, it was agreed it could not be sold until 15 October.
The campaign group has asked trustees for details of the other offers that have been received ahead of the expiry of a moratorium on the sale on Thursday.
In a statement at the time, the trustees said they were “reluctantly” putting the club on the market due to them facing “significant claims from creditors”. The club’s debts stood in the “hundreds of thousands of pounds”, they added.
A statement from the trustees ahead of this week’s deadline said: “The moratorium comes to an end on Thursday. The trustees are giving careful consideration to the various offers received, including those from the interested community groups.
“They are also giving careful consideration to the best use of any sale proceeds in the interests of the members of the Irish Association Social Club, after substantial debts have been discharged.
“As has been explained to the individuals concerned, the members of the club will be contacted with the relevant information in due course.”