Peterborough United insist ball in city council’s court over stadium impasse

Posh insist that the ball is in the city council’s court over plans for their new stadium, which have reached an impasse.

By Ben Jones
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 8:04 am
A projection of Peterborough United's new stadium.
A projection of Peterborough United's new stadium.

Peterborough City Council has just completed the first round of public consultations on the future of the Embankment through the “We’re Talking Peterborough Embankment Survey.”

The consultations will help the council’s independent consultant team, led by Stantec and Barton Wilmore, to start shaping options for the city’s Embankment Masterplan.

The council is unlikely to make any decisions on the site’s future until the entire process is complete, something Posh do not expect to happen until the end of February.

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Posh Co-owner Stewart Thompson. Photo: Peterborough United.

This has led to an impasse in the club’s plans for a new 19,400-seater multi-purpose stadium on the Embankment. Although the process to obtain the relevant permits and permissions is separate from the council’s consultations, the club have said they are unwilling to commit more funds to the process without knowing if they will be permitted to build on their preferred site.

Posh have already paid for their own Embankment Masterplan, in the form of a feasibility study, and are reluctant to incur further planning costs, which the club estimates at £1m, with the current uncertainty. Co-owners Darragh MacAnthony, Stewart Thompson and Jason Neale discussed the situation at a fans forum on Monday night (November 1). Mr Thompson said: “The reality is that not a lot is going on, we believe that it is in the city’s hands. We have done all of the right things; we brought the old ground, we paid for a master planning process, which we put in with both Cambridgeshire and the city; we’ve done all of the things we’ve had to do to be part of that and we believe that we have pushed our way into that masterplan.

“Right now, the city is waiting for the public feedback but we can’t get a commitment from them about where we are going to go. They would love for the three of us to pay for the next step as well but we’re in a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

“I appreciate where the city is at the moment, they need your feedback but we’re not going to put the next £1m up for all the planning, processes and permits when we don’t know exactly where the stadium is going to be.

“We know what a lifeless suburban stadium would do, having the stadium beside the university on the Embankment makes sense when your downtown core is at risk like Peterborough’s is.

“We are just asking to be part of the regeneration.”

Mr MacAnthony went on to suggest that the council could play some part in funding the stadium as many other local authorities have at other Championship clubs.

He added: “We played Hull a couple of weeks ago. They have a lovely community stadium they paid nothing for and it’s a very cheap lease.

“We went to Swansea on Saturday; a beautiful stadium, again very much designed by the community and council of Swansea and the club have a very low lease. The benefits to those two cities is the millions that come in every year.

“I’ve been saying this and banging my head against a brick wall for a long time. The last estimation had us in the Championship being worth £15m to the city. If you add that over a long period of time, that’s incredible and much-needed revenue after Covid. I’m not an economics professor but I know the benefit of us being here (city centre) is better than us not being here.

“I’ve always been of the mindset that we’re bringing all of this money in but what’s in it for us? The city did well out of the stadium deal, they made fortunes in rent in between the sales, all the houses and flats were built and they will get all the council tax from those. This football club has, and continues to make the city millions of pounds.

“All these guys (Stewart Thompson and Jason Neale) want to do is build a state-of-the-art 365-day a year stadium, that will create hundreds more jobs, generate £25m a year rather than £15m a year and they’re even saying that we will get the funding if you’re not going to help. I just feel we are doing all we can, we’re not asking for handouts

“The city could play some part in the funding, even if it was an interest loan.”