Peterborough United are closing in on a deal to buy back the ABAX Stadium from Peterborough City Council.
A joint announcement revealing the news at the football club’s Hall of Fame launch tonight (October 18) was greeted with great cheers from Posh supporters.
The two parties expect the sale of the stadium and grounds in London Road to be finalised over the next six months after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Posh are keen to redevelop and modernise a stadium with a current capacity of 14,100.
Dr Jason Neale, the Posh co-owner who led negotiations with the city council, said: “As stewards of the Posh we are building a better, bigger club.
“Having control of the ground will allow us to create Championship-grade facilities and grow ancillary commercial income, both of which are critical to our longevity. While there is still work to be done, this is a significant moment for both the community and the club.”
After a long negotiation terms are believed to have been agreed, but it is understood the deal will take time to complete due to covenants attached to the land.
One involves the right of the Posh Supporters Trust to attempt to buy the stadium back themselves. The Trust is thought most unlikely to get involved.
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 Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony who revealed the rent was set at £500,000 a year with the club responsible for repairs and improvements despite being tenants.
The Peterborough Telegraph has asked both Posh and the council how much the club are paying to buy back the stadium and land.
The club said in a statement the purchase price was based on “fair market value”. The council has so far declined to respond.
Mr MacAnthony said: “At Posh we remained focussed on three key objectives.
“1 - to secure Championship football and thrive once there, 2 - to return the ground to club control and 3 - to improve and expand our facilities and our youth system.
“Clearly delivering on this MOU will help us achieve all three and we look forward to closing the deal in the near future.”
The MOU envisions investment in new and improved grassroots training facilities serving footballers from Under 4 to the senior level across Cambridgeshire, with a strong focus on Peterborough.
Council leader Cllr John Holdich said: “As a lifelong Posh fan I’m pleased the London Road ground will once again be in the club’s ownership. Peterborough United is at the heart of our community, both geographically and culturally.
“By making the purchase back in 2010 the city council was able to ensure the ownership of the ground remained in the city and ultimately returned to the club.
“It was also able to unlock the development of the surrounding land to create the Allia Future Business Centre, 295 carbon zero homes on the Vista development and space for future affordable Medesham homes.
“Our city benefits both economically and socially from the club’s continued success, bringing in over £7 million of revenue into the city each year, boosting tourism and improving the fitness, health and wellbeing of over 1,000 children from all communities per week.
“Once the transfer of the land is complete it will be able to make the changes needed to step up to the Championship and work closer with fans across the city and beyond.”
The proposal also calls for a major community development initiative based in Peterborough that will deepen the relationship between Posh and the community.
This will focus on sports science, digital arts, software and other technologies traditionally not found in the region. A plan will be presented to the community for input within a year of the sale being completed.
The arrival of new Canadian Posh co-owners, Dr Neale and Stewart ‘Randy’ Thompson, has sped up negotiations with the council.
Dr Neale added: “On behalf of my partners and everyone at the club I want to thank the council for seeing and sharing our long-term vision.”