Peterborough United’s new co-owners reckon their partnership with club chairman Darragh MacAnthony will be a match made in heaven.
MacAnthony revealed yesterday (March 2) he had sold 50% of his Posh shareholding to Canada-based businessmen Stewart ‘Randy’ Thompson and Dr Jason Neale.
Thompson and Neale made their purchase through a newly-formed company, Kelgary Sports and Entertainment, and they insist they are at Posh for the long haul. They chose Posh after also looking at several other clubs.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire the pair talked about a three-to-five year plan which involves purchasing the club’s ground back from Peterborough City Council, further development of the Posh Academy and a return to the Championship.
Thompson and Neale confirmed an undisclosed ‘cash transaction’ was made to MacAnthony for half of the club. They believe MacAnthony’s passion for Posh and their business acumen will prove to be a perfect combination. MacAnthony will stay on as club chairman.
Neale said: “We decided to invest in Peterborough United for many reasons. We looked at other clubs, but Peterborough is one we felt we could make work best. We have a 3-5 year plan, a fundamental part of which is to bring the stadium back into club ownership. That would be transformative for the city and the club. We could put on events that would benefit both parties. I can’t put a timeline on it, but the club and the council have been working on it for a while now and it’s edging closer.
“And I saw Alan Shearer’s debut for Southampton so I know the benefits of a strong Academy. There are 700,000 people living in Cambridgeshire so there’s a big pool of talent out there that we can tap into.
“Of course a big part of the plan is also to get back into the Championship. We’d like to do it sooner, but we are conscious of not working in a vacuum here. Other clubs will be competing for the same.
“We are limited by financial fairplay in what we can do financially and we are also capped in terms of the investment we can make, but the best way to improve the playing staff is to increase the revenue because that increases the amount of funding we can provide.
“We are certainly not treating it as a hobby. This will be a full-time activity for us. Myself and Stuart have a great record of helping businesses grow financially.”
Thompson assured Posh fans their arrival is not the start of the end of MacAnthony’s 11-year reign at the club. He is predicting a long and fruitful partnership for all three co-owners.
Thompson said: “I love football, or proper football as we call it over here. I still play a bit, but I also love the business end of the sport. As business partners and investors myself and Jason have worked a lot with start-up companies where the dynamics change every day and you have to give it your full attention to make sure it cultivates and grows financially. I see this club like that.
“We are aware that football clubs can expand and contract like an accordian. We have to be prepared to deal with both and we will.
“We looked at lots of other opportunties, but this seemed like the perfect match-up for us with the size of the club and the city, the club’s outstanding academy and the people already working at the club.
“I can’t imagine Darragh working anywhere else. His passion for his club blew us away. We will be good at the business side and we have top people on the football side like Bob Symns and Barry Fry.
“We signed a purchase agreement and a cash transaction took place. We obviously can’t disclose the details, but we have joined the board and we will grow the revenue of the club.
“We know how to manage things, but there are times when you have to loosen your grip. We will let our good people do what they are good at and we will be prepared to step in when the time is right.
“Myself, Jason and Darragh got on like a house on fire from the first time we met. Different skills have come together. We are not coming into the change things. We have brought a ‘boat’ and we will both pick up an oar and start helping Darragh who has been an incredible owner and chairman of the club. He’s had a huge financial burden for the last decade or so, but now he can share that load with two Canadians who are keen to help
“It’s not a stepping stone for us. None of our businesses have been short-term affairs. Throwing money at a football club and then leaving is not a successful strategy. We are here for the ups and downs.”
A formal press conference to introduce the new co-owners will be held towards the end of March, but both Thompson and Neale have already been to the city and the stadium as their negotiations with MacAnthony lasted eight months. The English Football League gave the deal their blessing after a thorough due diligence check passed Thompson and Neale as fit and proper owners.
Neale added: “We have attended a number of matches already, but we have yet to see the team win live, apart from the cup (Checkatrade Trophy) game against Southend!
“I have spoken to fans in pubs around the city and I even had my haircut in town to gauge the reaction of fans to the club. We’re involved in a range of businesses, but I can’t imagine a better business than football. We are both grateful to Darragh for the opportunity to help this club.”
Thompson added: “I would like to thank the Peterborough fans who have already reached out to us to offer us a warm welcome to their family. I promise them we will be responsible family members.”