Peterborough United chief says stadium deal will deliver ‘conveyer belt of academy graduates’
The deal for Peterborough United to buy back their London Road stadium will not just have a short term benefit but will help deliver a “conveyer belt of youth academy graduates for decades to come,” according to one of the club’s co-owners.
Posh and the city council signed off the paperwork for the Weston Homes Stadium last week to complete a lengthy negotiation which has been delayed by Covid-19.
Under the arrangement London Road Peterborough Properties Ltd - which is owned by club co-owners Darragh MacAnthony, Jason Neale and Stewart Thompson - will pay £5.265 million for the stadium, Allia Future Business Centre and 12 car parking spaces, with the council holding onto much of the surrounding land it bought as part of the original deal, including the London Road car park.
But one of the less talked about parts of the deal is a £4.7 million grant offered by the council to Posh to “fund the enhancement of the facilities” at its training ground at Nene Park Academy in Oundle Road and to “increase community use”.
The planned revamp follows the club receiving approval for Category 2 status - the second highest available for academies.
The new covered pitch is a requirement for the club to be a Category 2 academy.
Posh have introduced a number of home-grown players into the side this season and have the aim of at least three players graduating from the club’s academy to the first-team squad by 2024.
Mr Neale told the Peterborough Telegraph: “The completion of the purchase of the Weston Homes Stadium finally reunites our beloved stadium with the club through the same ownership group, enabling us to control our own destiny and more easily generate secondary revenues essential for the sustainability of the club.
“More than just a stadium purchase, the transaction carries a substantial grant that will enable us to build state of the art training facilities to be used by both the wider community and PUFC.
“Such facilities are essential in our pursuit of Category 2 youth academy status and our vision of a conveyer belt of youth academy graduates for decades to come.”
Under the plans for the training ground submitted to the council, the new covered pitch and additional changing, educational and administration facilities would be introduced with the current lakeside building demolished to extend the existing car park facilities.
According to Posh’s planning application, the dome over the new artificial pitch would be up to 11m high.
Supporting accommodation would include:
• Four team changing rooms
• Coaches and referee changing rooms
• Two classrooms
• A team meeting room
• An analysis suite
• A guest lounge for parents and guardians of players
• Office support space.
It is proposed that the new facilities would be available for Nene Park Academy pupils between 9am and 3pm during term time, with access also available for other schools, youth groups and community organisations.
It is also envisaged that the site will be used for walking football for adults, to support people suffering from mental health issues, to increase the number of women playing the sport, for disability groups and for adult health programmes such as MAN V FAT.