Peterborough United owners explore building new stadium to replace London Road ground
The owners of Peterborough United are exploring building a new stadium to replace the existing ground in London Road.
In a blog published on the club’s website co-owner Jason Neale said the ABAX Stadium is “showing her age” and there are “restraints” to developing it.
But he insisted any new ground would be built within the city of Peterborough.
Dr Neale has been leading the negotiations with Peterborough City Council to buy back the ABAX Stadium from the local authority.
In October the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which committed them to trying to finalise a deal for the stadium and London Road grounds over the next six months.
Dr Neale’s blog states that himself and fellow co-owners Darragh MacAnthony and Stewart ‘Randy’ Thompson want to own the ground separately from the club for two reasons.
He wrote: “First, a separate corporate structure allows us access to a broader range of financing options, which would better support developing the level of facilities that our wonderful fan base deserves.
“Second, by not holding the club and the ground in the same corporate entity we effectively protect the club from any financial liabilities that can arise from major development activities.”
The Posh Supporters Trust has a statutory right to bid for the ABAX Stadium and grounds in London Road as it is registered as an Asset of Community Value.
The council has confirmed the trust will not take up the option, adding: “We are in discussions with the trust to make sure the stadium is protected as a football ground in the future.”
Dr Neale confirmed that the covenant would remain in place should a new stadium be built.
He added that it is “far too early in the process” to discuss specific locations should Posh move away from London Road.
Whether Posh stay at the ABAX or build a new ground, he stated: “The result must be a stadium of which the entire Posh community can be proud and that supports our aspirations to return to Championship flight football and thrive once we get there.”
The current stadium has a capacity of 14,100.
The council bought it and the surrounding land for £8 million from Peterborough United Holdings Limited (PUHL) in 2010, a deal which was widely welcomed as it secured Posh’s future.
PUHL had previously bought the ground from Peter Boizot in 2003. But it caused plenty of anxiety for Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony who revealed the rent was set at £500,000 a year with the club responsible for repairs and improvements despite being tenants.
Dr Neale’s blog also reveals that the club is currently “in the midst of a planning and grant application phase to materially upgrade our academy”.
He added: “We are targeting at least three players graduating into the first team every year by 2024.”
Progress is also said to have been made on developing an incubator focussing on “sports science, digital arts, software and other technologies traditionally not found in the region, as well as an angel investment group to support this activity”.
Business incubators specialise in speeding up the growth of start-up companies and guiding early-stage businesses on the road to commercial success.
Angel investors are private investors who provide finance and support to early-stage businesses.
A plan for the incubator is expected to be submitted to the council for review in the second half of this year.
Dr Neale and Mr Thompson joined Posh as co-owners last March.
Finishing his blog, Dr Neale said: “I want to close by thanking all of you, the Posh community, for the warm welcome you have given Stewart and I. We are proud and humbled to join Darragh as stewards of your club and I will continue to keep you up to date on the ground.”