LATEST NEWS: New owners are as important as the best Peterborough United players
Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony is the man who funded the arrival at London Road of the Holy Trinity.
But he’s confident his recruitment of co-owners Dr Jason Neale and Stewart Thompson will be just as significant as the signing of star players George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Mclean, the men who did most to propel Posh up the Football League into the Championship.
MacAnthony has always followed his father’s advice about running businesses without partners. A chance meeting with Canadians Neale and Thompson in Las Vegas last September changed all that to the extent that the pair flanked MacAnthony at a Posh press conference called today (March 28) so the new partnership’s vision could be explained to the local media and to Sky TV. Rolling news is a tough gig these days and Posh have a chairman guaranteed to deliver a strong soundbite or two.
Interestingly MacAnthony hinted his time at Posh might have been coming to an end after 11 mostly successful years. He’s been made aware of foreign interest from China and Brazil in recent times.
“I needed a re-boot,” MacAnthony admitted, “And meeting these two guys have given it to me. We hit it off from the moment we met which was handy as they were a long way down the line of investing in another Football League club.
“These things take time. Due diligence has to be done. I saw they had an excellent record in business and I can honestly say there was barely a wrinkle in our negotiations which is most unusual in a business deal.
“I believe they will be among the best pieces of recruitment I have done at the club. My father had bad experiences in business with parthers so I’ve always avoided them, but this feels right. We get on great.
“I did think at one point this could be the end of me at Posh, but Stewart and Jason were adamant they wanted me to stay as chairman as part of the deal and I’m excited about the future together.”
Neale and Thompson did their due diligence on the city of Peterborough as well as the football club. They are also excited about their partnership with MacAnthony and the Posh public.
Naturally an effervescent, verbose chairman took centre stage today, but the contributions from his new mates were considered and eloquent.
Thompson fancied starting out in football at a lower level club, but was persuaded by Neale to take the plunge in League One.
“We’ve become involved in a very well run club,” Thompson said. “There are no dramas here. There are no problems, but there are areas in which we can help.
“Most immediately we can improve the facilities in the main stand and the London Road terrace,” Neale added. “I was at the game against Bristol Rovers on Saturday and walked around the ground at half-time. The queue for the toilets at the London Road End was long. My first thought was they’re not buying beer, for want of a better expression, while they’re stuck in a queue. We can sort that out quickly.
“And as someone who followed Southampton as a youngster I’m also aware how important an academy is. I saw Alan Shearer’s debut. How great would it be if we had four or five homegrown players in the first team?”
The newbies - as they were called by the club press officer at the start of the conference - are not going to chuck millions at the project, but they are confident subtle tweaks and improvements will boost the financial stream at the club.
And make no mistake, on-field success remains the priority it has always been under MacAnthony’s sole ownership. That and buying the ground back from Peterborough City Council which is still very much under negotiation.
“Getting into the Championship for next season would be a huge boost,” Thompson added. “Because that would accelerate our whole process. The profile of the club would automatically be raised as would some income streams.”
“If it doesn’t happen this year we will have another go next season,” Neale contributed. “But that’s also the dream of all our competitors.”
There is no real rush. The owners - all three of them - have the club’s best interests at heart. This is a long-term plan and all the more reassuring for that.
Neale and Thompson are meeting Posh season ticket holders tonight. Over 200 tickets have been purchased for the event at the ABAX Stadium.