Council Talks Cast A Cloud Over London Road

black_cloud08:08 Friday 15th March 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: According to our sources, talks have been held with the landlords of Nene Park in Northamptonshire, to consider whether Peterborough United might relocate there. Since we’ve been on air, Posh Chief Executive Bob Symns has been in touch to deny that they are currently considering a move to the former home of Rushden and Diamonds, and that they are not currently in negotiations. Peterborough United’s lease of course at London Road, which is owned by Peterborough City Council expires in 2014, and discussions over a new lease have been described as ongoing. And none of the building work which was supposed to happen on the Moys End has actually happened yet. Paul Froggitt is Board Member of the Posh Supporters Trust. He’s with us this morning.
PAUL FROGGITT: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you surprised that according to our sources talks have taken place on something like this?
PAUL FROGGITT: I would be surprised if talks have taken place. Darragh has said a number of times in the past that he’s disappointed with the number of supporters that Posh attract to London Road, which is about a core of about five and a half thousand. To move somewhere else like Rushden is going to make the situation worse, rather than better, and seeing as he wants more supporters to come I’d be very surprised if anything like that was ever considered as a realistic proposal.
PAUL STAINTON: Where do you think this has come from then? Do you think Darragh’s feeling a bit paralysed by things at the moment? Perhaps negotiations are not going the way they should be. The building work’s not started.
PAUL FROGGITT: That’s right. I think, yes. Careful what I say, but I would think that maybe because negotiations aren’t going the way that the Club want them at the moment, that they’re perhaps floating one or two alternatives, to, as has been suggested, get the Council to do something. But of course we don’t know what terms are being offered by the Council at the moment, so it’s hard to tell whether .. who is at fault for not getting things moving.
PAUL STAINTON: Adi Mowles is with us as well, lifelong Posh supporter of course, and a Member of the Posh Independent Supporters Association. Morning.
ADI MOWLES: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: You all right?
ADI MOWLES: Morning Froggy.
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) Would you go 25 miles to watch Posh Adi?
ADI MOWLES: Well it’s a hypothetical question, because I’m with Paul on this one, but I would. Yes, of course I would. I’d go a lot further than that. I have done. For many years, when I’ve lived even abroad, I’ve barely missed a game all season. So yes, I would do. But that’s because I’m committed, or certainly should be. There’s a couple of things we need to put to bed about this Neeeene Park situation.
PAUL STAINTON: It should be Neeene. They get it wrong every time, don’t they? They don’t know how to say it.
ADI MOWLES: They’ve got six fingers as well, so we don’t listen to anything they say. To be honest, anything that’s associated with Colin Hill I wouldn’t want anything to do with. And I would be absolutely astonished if the Club would as well, bearing in mind his history with our football club. And Colin Hill, to my knowledge, is still the owner of Nene Park. So that ain’t going to happen. The other thing is, if it’s a way of pushing the Council, then good, because there’s a survey that the supporters have been asked to carry out a few months ago, and I gather over two and a half thousand I think it was replied to it. And in that survey, when Hartlepool did it two years ago, on gates of 2,000, it valued the Club’s value to the city at nearly £4 million. Bearing in mind people come in, they do shopping, away supporters, money spent on the day, etcetera, etcetera. So, simple maths, minimum three times that, when we’ve got gates of 6,000 minimum. So the Council need to start looking at the Club as an asset, and at the moment they’re not looking at the Club as an asset at all. And frankly, if we say double Hartlepool is £8 million, and that’s being very very .. I’m not exaggerating that one. I’m being very under value probably. Then what they paid for the football club has already been repaid. And that’s year on year out. That’s how much this football club brings into the city.
PAUL STAINTON: So what you’re saying is the Council need to understand the value of having a Club in the city, and act accordingly.
ADI MOWLES: Absolutely. And they don’t. They don’t. The silence from the Council is deafening. Absolutely deafening. It is pathetic and they need to sort themselves out. If this is what it takes to make them sort themselves out, then great. Personally I don’t believe the story, and I understand you’ve got to investigate these things.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we have got sources that have told us that discussions took place. And nobody has denied that discussions didn’t take place from the Club. They’re saying they’re not negotiating at the moment. Craig makes a point. He says ” If we’re to build a new ground in Peterborough, we would need a new home for one or two seasons.” Could that be the answer? Is this what this is about?
ADI MOWLES: I certainly don’t think it’s a permanent thing. I don’t think that would ever be the case. And if Nene Park was looked upon for a year, nine months or a season or whatever, that you could get the ground rectified in a short period of time, I don’t think, as much as we wouldn’t want it to happen, I don’t think the supporters could moan too much, because it would mean that something’s happened after four years of complete intransigence from the Council, sorry, non-action from the Council, then I don’t think nine months of pain would actually hurt the supporters, albeit some wouldn’t be able to go. And it would be a great shame and it wouldn’t be ideal. However, if we get a completely sorted out football ground out if it .. Frankly, if .. and the results haven’t been releeased from this survey, but if they are released at the value that we could only guess they would be, the Council have got a no-brainer to get it sorted out.
PAUL FROGGITT: Can I come in Paul?
PAUL FROGGITT: Adi just said that if a new ground were on the cards then we’d need to move somewhere else for a couple of years. Not necessarily. It depends on where we end up next season, whether we’re in the Championship or League One. And I think that might be one of the things that is causing these rumours to fly around at the moment.
PAUL STAINTON: Well more than rumours, according to our sources.
PAUL FROGGITT: All right. I’ve got at the back of my mind that nobody might want to come to a decision for another couple of months yet, until they decide where they’re going to be next year. And although people say that they’re pushing for a decision at the moment, I just wonder whether they’re quite happy to let things lie for another couple of months, until they see where they’re going to be.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. Because it’s not just our sources that are talking about it. It’s all over the message boards and everything, isn’t it?
PAUL FROGGITT: Yes. (LAUGHS) If you believe anything on the message boards of course. (THEY LAUGH) We’d be here for another two days I think. Yes. Go on.
ADI MOWLES: A very quick point. It wasn’t me that suggested if we got a new ground we’d move for two months (years?) it was somebody who texted in. But the other thing is the way I’m looking at is if the Council took on board how much this club is worth to the city, and actually did something, and it took major renovation taking place at the football ground, I’m talking more than just a piddly little two and a half thousand seater stand being built at Moys End, London Road end being done and possibly even the new stand, then a move would have to be legislated, and that’s what I was talking about. Somebody else was talking about a new ground being built somewhere and us having to move. But I take Froggy’s point on board as well. And we need some clarification from the Council. The Council are the ones leading this. It should be the Council that should be talking to the city every day. They’re fannying about talking about little roundabout windmill things in a field in some Fen village.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we have spoken to Peterborough City Council as you can probably imagine. They say it’s commercially sensitive at the moment, and they can’t talk about it. They say “we’re in negotiations with Peterborough United Football Club Limited about a new long term lease and the financial arrangements around this. Considerations include the length of lease, new rental arrangements, a mechanism to allow the tenant to acquire the freehold interest during the new lease term and any rent abatement during the redevelopment works to reflect loss of income. The status of these discussions are at this stage commercially confidential.” We did put this issue of the discussions taking place about Posh potentially moving to Nene Park and we had a statement last few days from them. They said “our current discussions with the City Council are still ongoing. We’re in negotiation with them about the new long term lease and the financial arrangements around this. The status of these discussions are at this stage commercially confidential. These negotiations also cover an agreement on rent arrears, whilst we are desperately looking to finalise a judicious solution we live under the heavy cloud of having a lease that terminates next year, and the immense worry and challenges that situation brings to bear on the Chairman, the football club, its supporters and the city.” Bob Symns at the football club this morning has said there are no current negotiations with Nene Park, the former home of Rushden and Diamonds, but nobody has said they haven’t had discussions in the last as yet.