Co-owner Jason Neale updates supporters on the latest news with regards to the ABAX Stadium.
Somehow ten months have sped past since Stewart and I joined forces with Darragh as Posh co-owners. I’ve been drinking from the proverbial firehose over those months in learning the football side of the business and it has been both enlightening and great fun. It is, however, the business side where my expertise can best be leveraged for the betterment of the club and it is in that space that I’m finally crafting my first, and well-overdue, Posh blog.
Three short months ago we announced the MOU regarding the ground returning to club control. It was a momentous announcement but one that simply signaled the formal start of a process. At that time my partners and I vowed to keep the Posh community up to date on the progress being made and I’ll do that here.
First, everyone at Posh is excited about reuniting the stadium with the club. Further, so are the members of Council and we are grateful for their ongoing hard work, guidance, and support. We continue to work together with shared vision and common goals. We also appreciate the ongoing interest and input from the various supporters’ groups. We find this dialogue very valuable and will continue to meet with representatives monthly at the supporter’s liaison committee chaired by our CEO Bob Symns.
While there are a number of threads addressed in the MOU, I’ll start with the one closest to everyone’s thoughts. That being the ultimate disposition of the ABAX London Road ground.
The owners and Club executive are already hard at work drafting a five-year plan looking at two options for the stadium. One option is refurbishing the existing ground and the other is the potential to build a new ground elsewhere in the City of Peterborough. In either case the result must be a stadium of which the entire Posh community can be proud and that supports our aspirations to return to Championship flight football and thrive once we get there. While both options present individual challenges, refurbishing the existing ground has great constraints. I think we can all see the ABAX London Road ground has been well loved through the years and she is showing her age.
I want to be clear on the following point. Should the planning process result in a decision to build a new ground, that ground will be sited inside the limits of the City of Peterborough. To answer the obvious next question, it’s far too early in the process to start discussing specific locations should it come to that.
I realise there is also interest from the community on the business structure for the ground. As an ownership group, Darragh, Stewart, and I have weighed the options of holding the ground in the same entity as the Club or in a separate entity. For two main reasons the three of us plan to own the ground separately from the club. First, a separate corporate structure allows us access to a broader range of financing options, which would better support developing the level of facilities that our wonderful fan base deserves. Second, by not holding the Club and the ground in the same corporate entity we effectively protect the Club from any financial liabilities that can arise from major development activities.
In any case the covenant that currently protects the field as a community treasure will remain in place and would move with the Club should the review process identify a new build elsewhere in the City of Peterborough as the most appropriate option.
You may also recall the MOU outlined a number of other exciting initiatives that we continue to progress in concert with Council. We are making solid progress on developing an incubator focussing on sports science, digital arts, software, and other technologies traditionally not found in the region as well as an angel investment group to support this activity. Both the incubator and angel group are grounded on the experience Stewart and I have accumulated over the years in delivering similar programs in Canada and internationally. We anticipate submitting a plan for review by Council in the second half of 2019.
Last I am personally very excited to see the progress on improved youth and development facilities. We are in the midst of a planning and grant application phase to materially upgrade our academy. We are targeting at least three players graduating into the first team every year by 2024.
I want to close by thanking all of you, the Posh community, for the warm welcome you have given Stewart and I. We are proud and humbled to join Darragh as stewards of your club and I will continue to keep you up to date on the ground.
Up the Posh!