AN iconic hotel and adjoining championship golf course looks set to be sold by its tycoon owner after a £1 million judgment was issued against him in the high court.
The future of the Castletown Golf Links Hotel, which boasts one of the most spectacular locations in the island, has looked increasingly uncertain ever since it closed just after the centenary TT in 2007.
Last year, its owner Graham Ferguson Lacey stepped down as executive chairman and director of the Sefton Group, citing poor health.
And now iomtoday has learned details of a high court case in which Mr Ferguson Lacey was ordered to pay back a £1 million loan plus interest and costs.
The court heard from his advocate Jerry Carter that while there wasn’t the money to repay the loan as the ‘cupboard I’m afraid is pretty bare at the moment’, he was hopeful that the sale of the golf links would go through.
Leading estate agent David Creane of Cowley Groves, who represents Mr Ferguson Lacey on the golf club committee, told the Examiner that the Golf Links was ‘an iconic site’.
He said: ‘It needs to be sold, it needs to be developed. Yes it will be sold and hopefully it will be sold sooner rather than later. There is a transaction pending at the moment but for reasons of confidentiality I can’t say more than that.
‘It’s an absolute shame that it hasn’t been developed. It’s an absolute shame it hasn’t had appropriate planning that would entice developers to purchase it at an appropriate price.
‘It needs to be developed to become something that the Isle of Man can be extremely proud of.’
Mr Creane said both hotel and golf links had to be sold as one package and he believed the site could become a five-star boutique hotel plus apartments and facilities for golf club members.
John and Heather Quinn, of The Cooil, Braddan, had brought the high court claim following non-repayment of a £1 million loan they had made to the defendant on November 27, 2009, initially on a three month basis but then extended by a month with a new repayment date of March 31, 2010.
Interest was to be charged at 10 per cent per annum.
But despite demands made by the Quinns, the defendant failed to repay the loan.
Deemster Andrew Corlett ordered judgment at a hearing on March 4, but deferred executing that judgment until a further hearing.
The total sum ordered to be paid back was £1,076.006.82 including interests and court costs.
The Quinns sought as part of their application a charging order against the shares of companies owned by Mr Ferguson-Lacey – namely Redford Ltd and Fort Island Ltd – and thereby claim an interest in the property of these companies including the Castletown Golf Links Hotel, the Fort Island Golf Lodge and also parcels of land at Langness.
A charging order was also placed on his Walton House home in Bridge Road, Ballasalla.
The court heard that the sale of the Golf Links followed previous protracted negotiations but it was hopeful it could proceed although there were some encumbrances due to there being four companies involved in its ownership.
Mr Ferguson-Lacey was fit to give instructions despite his illness, his advocate Mr Carter told the Deemster.
As the main substance of the matters of issue in the hearings were not contested, the judgments were not released on the court’s website.
Isle of Man Newspapers applied to the court for details of the orders to be released on the grounds of public interest and in the interests of fair and open justice, given that the details of the caveats on Mr Ferguson-Lacey’s Langness property interests are available for public inspection at the General Registry.
Our request was granted by the court.
Meanwhile companies linked to Mr Ferguson-Lacey that operated two other hotel and golf courses have gone into administration.
The Machrie Hotel closed just before Christmas on the Hebridean island of Islay closed just before Christmas although the adjoining 71-par championship golf course is still open.
High Legh Park Country Club in Cheshire was also placed into administration last year but is now under new management.