Premier League VAR Has Made This The Most Controversial Office In Britain
It is not often TV viewers of the world’s most popular sporting league hear commentators regularly namecheck a 1980s business park.
But the Premier League’s introduction earlier this season of video assistant referees means viewers around the globe hear constant references to Stockley Park. And because of the unpopularity of VAR, a case can be made that one building at Stockley Park is now the most controversial office block in the UK.
5 Longwalk Ave. at Stockley Park, a 114K SF building on the 2M SF business park near Heathrow Airport in West London, is suddenly in the spotlight. The building is fully leased to media company IMG Studios, which produces all of the Premier League’s TV coverage, including managing the footage reviewed live during games by video assistant referees, which allows them to overturn decisions made by on-field referees if mistakes have been made.
“The decision is being reviewed in Stockley Park,” viewers are told. The new technology has not been popular with supporters because it is perceived to have made decisions less fair.
IMG signed a 15-year lease on the building in 2012, paying rent of £26 per SF. It has also leased 26K SF at next door 4 Longwalk Ave. 5 Longwalk Ave. was sold by Schroders and Exemplar to a Middle Eastern investor in 2013 for £42M. The Land Registry, according to Datscha, shows there is a charge on the property to Saudi Arabian billionaire Saleh Abdullah Kamel, which means he likely owns the building, or provided a loan to purchase it.
Stockley Park itself has a fascinating history in real estate terms. The park is built on more than 350 acres that until the mid-1980s were a rubbish dump. It was originally earmarked for industrial development, but a consortium including USS, Sir Stuart Lipton, Elliot Bernerd and Jacob Rothschild decided to build one of London’s first suburban business parks, and ended up selling it for a huge profit.
When it was first built it was a magnet for U.S. tech occupiers, who during the 1980s and 1990s loved suburban office parks, a trend that is today reversing.
Over the years the individual buildings have been sold off rather than retained under one ownership.
As successful as the park has been over the years, Stockley Park is a name that Premier League viewers will want to hear as little as possible in the future.