Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony has reacted angrily after the club’s bid to buy back its stadium from the city council was questioned by the Posh Supporters Trust.
Mr MacAnthony published a lengthy post on his Facebook page this evening in response to a statement released earlier in the day by the Trust (PST).
The statement confirmed (as previously revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph) that the 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.
Mr MacAnthony and Posh co-wners Dr Jason Neale and Stewart ‘Randy’ Thompson recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Peterborough City Council which commits both sides to trying to complete a deal in the next six months, with Posh eager to develop the stadium.
The Trust said: “The PST has a six month window to explore the possibility of making a bid which could mean talking to other parties who might have a better way of protecting the stadium in the longer term.
“The PST are only concerned with the longevity and sustainability of the club and professional football at its current location. The PST want the club to thrive for the benefit of the community.
“We retain the ambition for Peterborough Football Club to play at the highest professional level of football and our only focus is to enable these objectives to be accomplished.
“The PST has delivered a letter to the PCC (with copies to PUFC Ltd) asking for all pertinent information to be shared to enable the PST to make an assessment on its next steps. The PST has also asked for a meeting with the PCC as soon as is practicable.”
The statement also includes some questions the Trust has asked the council, including “the due diligence” completed by the authority to ensure the economic benefit “will not be jeopardised if the sale were to proceed to a 3rd party”.
The Trust also released a statement after the signing of the MOU which promised ‘thorough’ scrutiny of the proposed deal.
Reacting to the latest statement on his Facebook page, Mr MacAnthony wrote: “With friends like these who needs enemies comes to mind!!
“No idea why myself and my partners should want to invest millions of our own money/time into buying a 3 sided stadium with little capability for the large scale modernizing that’s necessary, But we have a plan and one that in the long term will knock the socks of all our fans once the ground purchase is completed.”
He added: “This kind of non help will hold up the sale of the ground and plans we have. We have spent a long time working on this with the council which will benefit the club, the city and in long term a workable plan to suit all parties and mainly our wonderful supporters.
“I have owned Posh for 12 years and have never given any fans any reason to doubt me, my motives or how I run the football club which has always been done in the best interest of the club itself. So to see this stuff played out like this turns me off the whole thing if I am being blunt.
“I have seen the questions the trust have asked of the council and quite frankly find some of them astonishing and does the club no favours or helps us get closer to complete this deal.”
Mr MacAnthony also revealed that the club had “reached out” to speak to the Trust about the future plans in the next few weeks.
The Posh chairman and Dr Neale have both said plans for the redevelopment of the stadium include “massive investment” in youth and academy football and creating jobs and revenue.
Peterborough City Council bought the stadium and 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 Mr MacAnthony who revealed the rent was set at £500,000 a year with the club responsible for repairs and improvements despite being tenants.
Mr MacAnthony said tonight that the rent was the highest in the English Football League for any council owned grounds.
The announcement of the MOU being signed was made on October 18 at the launch of the club’s Hall of Fame.
The PT has tonight emailed the Trust questions about its statement.
Both statements from the Trust and Mr MacAnthony can be read in full here.