Posh Ground Redevelopment Debate

07:10 Monday 17th January 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

Interviews with Paul Froggitt, Marco Cereste and Ady Mowles about the progress or lack of it on the proposed work at the Peterborough United Football Club stadium.
PAUL STAINTON: Now one year ago Peterborough United’s London Road ground was bought by the City Council. Some thought it was a good deal, many thought it was ridiculous, £8 million, buying the ground from Peterborough United Holdings. The plan, to turn it into a community stadium. Here’s City Council Leader Marcoi Cereste, speaking just after the deal went through. (TAPE)
MARCO CERESTE: We had a situation where we needed to buy the ground, not for the football club, we needed to buy the ground because it’s the cornerstone of the South Bank development. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well details of a new stand with a built in college have already been revealed for the Moy’s End. And it’s hoped the redevelopment will begin in the season. But Posh Chairman Darragh McAnthony said that the rent had gone up by a huge amount, and that he’s not entirely happy with the process at the moment. This was him speaking on the Show on Friday. (TAPE)
DARRAGH MCANTHONY: I’m happy for the Council that they own the ground for themselves, and it’s a great asset for the City Council to own, and I think they have plans for it and and everything else. But there’s certain aspects of the ground that I’d like to know more about, which I’m not happy about. I’m certainly not happy about the fact that we as a League One club, it’s costing us near enough eight nine hundred grand a year to run the ground. When I first came to the club four and a half years ago it was costing me less than a hundred grand a year in rates to run it.
PAUL STAINTON:Have there been some broken promises along the line?
DARRAGH MCANTHONY: I wouldn’t say broken promises, but I would definitely say a lot more silences at the moment than there were when it was all being first discussed.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Posh Chairman Darragh McAnthony speaking to us on Friday. Paul Froggitt is a Board member for the Posh Supporters Trust. Morning Paul.
PAUL FROGGITT: Good morning to you Paul.
PAUL STAINTON:He sounded very frustrated. I garnered a feeling underneath what he was saying that he’s very frusrated with a lack of progress on the ground.
PAUL FROGGITT: I think he’s right to be. We share his concern on that point. Because what’s not apparent at the moment is what the City Council’s plans are for the whole stadium. We’ve had the plans published for the Moy’s End stand, which we’re somewhat disappointed about. But we don’t know how to take it in context at the moment, because ten months ago the City Council promised they would be publishing their ideas and plans for the whole stadium. And at that time they said they would be publishing those plans in three months. That was by June or July last year. And we’re still waiting for them. I know Darragh McAnthony has been pressing and pressing the City Council to publish their plans for the whole stadium, and he’s still waiting, and is frustrated because he doesn’t know what the overall concept is.
PAUL STAINTON:Yes. We’ve got three or four nice artists’ impressions, haven’t we, of different bits and bobs, but is your fear here that there’s no money to redevelop?
PAUL FROGGITT: I think the money is dictated, the Moy’s End stand certainly. The original concept, and what we’re still told, although I’m somewhat sceptical about it, is that they’re developing a stand, and they’ve found the tenant to occupy the space underneath. I think that’s not the case. I think what has happened there is that they’ll built a STEM centre, which might be a brilliant STEM centre, I don’t know what one’s supposed to look like, but they’ve developed a STEM centre and tacked a football stand on the side of it, instead of building a football stand with space underneath it.
PAUL STAINTON:Yes. Are you confident Paul that any of this development will go head, in this climate?
PAUL FROGGITT: I think it will go ahead. I think there have been hints in the past that the club itself may fund one of the other stands that are to be developed, and I think that’s still a possibility, although that’s a bit of a speculation on my part. So I think we will see the development of a further stand, but we don’t know. Our disappointment with the Moy’s End stand is because the scale of it has dropped from the 4,000 originally envisaged down to 2,500. Now if that’s repeated throughout the rest of the ground, we’re going to end up with a stadium of 12 or 13,000 capacity instead of the 18 19 20 that was originally being spoken about.
PAUL STAINTON:With the club paying £800/900,000 in rent, which is an extraordinary amount of money, isn’t it?
PAUL FROGGITT: I believe, yes, that’s what Darragh says. I think it’s something like £500,000 in rent, and then he’s talking about rates and various add-ons on top of that to make the £800/900,000 he talks about. Yes.
PAUL STAINTON:Is there some sort of feeling here that Darragh and Barry and everybody connected with the club are trying to push the Council now? Because Barry Fry has been talking about possible ground-sharing opportunities in the future. Are they trying to frighten the Council a little bit, do you think?
PAUL FROGGITT: I would think they’re trying to gee them up, certainly. And so they should, because, to repeat, the Council was saying ten months ago that they were going to produce the overall concept for the stadium, and we’re still waiting for that. The Council have said that they’re going to hold an exhibition at the ground, they said in January, although it’s getting on a bit late now, of the Moy’s Stand. And I would urge them when they hold that exhibition that the exhibition also shows their concepts, drawings, ideas for the whole of the stadium, and not just the Moy’s End stand. At the moment we’ve got a situation where they’re going to apply for planning permission for the Moy’s End stand, without knowing what the rest of the ground will look like. It’s a bit like you or I applying for planning permission to build a conservatory, before we’ve actually designed and built the house that it’s going to be attached to, sort of thing. We don’t know how to take it in context.
PAUL STAINTON:Paul, we’ll put all your questions and all your fears to Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council, after 8 o’clock this morning.


08:10 Monday 17th January 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON:Marco Cereste is Leader of Peterborough City Council, as you well know. Morning Marco. How are you doing?
MARCO CERESTE: Hello Paul. How are you?
PAUL STAINTON: Yes I’m good thank you. I’ll pick up on that first point from Paul, if I may. He said you said you were going to publish plans for the whole stadium within three months, and they’ve not seen hide nor hair of them.
MARCO CERESTE: Well I don’t recall I ever said anything like that, and I don’t know anybody who did. But if that’s what they thought, then I’m sorry they haven’t heard. It would have been virtually impossible to have come forward with a definitive set of plans within three months of having bought the stadium. But we’re there. We’re nearly there now. We’ve got the plans I know have been published for the Moy’s End, we’ve got a really good heat and power scheme for one of the others, and we’re not quite sure what we’re going to do with the other stand. You see it depends on the market, and who is interested, and how we can develop it. We would anticipate to be able to start working on the site sometime in the summer of this year.
PAUL STAINTON:All right. There seems to be a certain amount of frustration from speaking to Darragh, speaking to Paul, that there’ve been to quote silences in communication between you and the football club, and that the relationship has deteriorated.
MARCO CERESTE: Well let’s be absolutely clear about this. It’s not me. I don’t run the project.
PAUL STAINTON: City Council. Yes.
MARCO CERESTE: The City Council. As far as I’m aware, our officers are now in the process of making sure that they’ve got certainly good communications with everybody, now that we’ve actually got something to say. It’s been a highly successful project, because we are nearly at the point where we can come forward with most of the redevelopment scheme for the entire community project. So I’m sorry it’s taken a little bit longer. But we will be .. I will make sure that everybody is kept informed and we will ensure that people are kept informed as we go forward.
PAUL STAINTON:You understand the frustrations though for a man like Darragh McAnthony, who’s seen his rent go up and up and up, and ..
MARCO CERESTE: Ah well. Listen, I have a great deal of respect for Darren (sic), and he’s done a great amount of work for Peterborough. But, you know, Darren knew what the deal was before we signed the contract. So it’s got nothing to do with me that his rent has gone up.
PAUL STAINTON:Did you agree to lower the rent if they dropped down a division?
MARCO CERESTE: Well no I didn’t. No. Absolutely not. The deal is a deal. It’s all down in black and white. You know, you and I both know that we spent public money and when you spend public money you have to get a reasonable .. it has to be spent wisely. They knew what the rent was. The club as you very well know was in serious trouble, because there was a possibility that they could have all been closed, and we were asked to step in. We did, and as you said earlier on, we spent £8 million of the city’s money, and quite rightly, not everybody in the city is a football player, or even a football supporter, and they want to make absolutely sure that the city gets value for money when it spends it’s money.
PAUL STAINTON:So there was no agreement to lower the rent if Posh got relegated.
MARCO CERESTE: No. None that I’m aware of. No.
PAUL STAINTON: Are you happy with the Moy’s End proposal. Because there’s quite a few fans who’ve been ringing in to the Show saying it was supposed to be a stadium with a STEM centre in it. It now looks like a STEM centre with a few seats around it.
MARCO CERESTE: Well I don’t see it like that. What I’ve seen looks really really exciting. But enough said, and I will keep my word. I’ll make sure that our people talk to the supporters, so that all the supporters club and the people at the Posh, if it hasn’t been happening, will be kept briefed on what’s going all the time, and can have some input on what we’re trying to do. Let’s face it, we’re trying to produce a community stadium that keeps the football club and is a successful venue for the city.
PAUL STAINTON:Are you confident that your plans will match the aspirations of Peterborough United here? Because there is a danger isn’t there that you might have a lovely community ground, with a STEM centre in it, but no football team to play in it, if they don’t like it.
MARCO CERESTE: Well one would hope that we will be able to work together to deliver what we need for the city, and I don’t see why we shouldn’t.
PAUL STAINTON:There are various representatives from the club, over the weekend, discussing the possibility of ground-shares with other clubs, and all sorts.
MARCO CERESTE: Well, they must do what they think we can do, and it would be a terrible thing to lose the club from the city. But the reality of it is and I repeat, they came to us with a problem. We acted I thought in very very good faith, for the benefit of the club and Peterborough. You and I both know I repeat if we’re going to spend even one million pounds of public money, it has to be spent properly. They knew what the deal was before it was all signed up. So they didn’t have to sign it up. And we’re doing the best for them that we possibly can. We’re doing the best for the city that we possibly can. And I believe that when it’s all over, and it’s done, everybody will be very happy with what’s happening. Because it will be a really nice new facility.
PAUL STAINTON:Are you 100% confident Marco, that in this present financial climate, the whole stadium can be redeveloped?
MARCO CERESTE: Well it won’t be .. no the plans are still not to redevelop the whole stadium, because the South Stand is much newer, and at the moment we’re not planning to redevelop the South Stand.
PAUL STAINTON:But the majority of the ground?
MARCO CERESTE: Yes. We are. Yes. At the moment we’re looking at a really good combined heat and power unit to go in under the London Road stand, which will provide .. will meet our environmental credentials, and provide the power that the club needs, and a new Carbon Development site .. a Carbon Challenge site requires. So that’s nearly done. And we’re just negotiating about the other stands. So I’m relatively confident. I can’t say I’m 100% confident. Who can say that? But I’m relatively confident that we will start to deliver this year. And certainly we will end up with a facility which is slightly bigger than the one that is at the moment. We’ll probably have an extra 5,000 seats when it’s done, and it will all be seated. There’ll be an all-seater community stadium, which I’m sure Peterborough will do very well in and will succeed and go forward and be promoted.
PAUL STAINTON: Marco, thank you for coming on this morning. Appreciate that. Marco Cereste, Leader of Peterborough City Council, who says things are moving forward with the stadium. The Moy’s End will start redevelopment, and people should be in there redeveloping it by the end of the season. And that Peterborough United knew what they were getting into when they got into the deal with the Council.


08:26 Monday 17th January 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PAUL STAINTON: Well Ady Mowles couldn’t be bothered to go to the Brighton game, so we can speak to him this morning. Morning Ady.
ADY MOWLES: Couldn’t be bothered. Unable to. Anyway, I tell you what, I’d give Mr Cereste a bit more credit if he could say Darragh, rather than Darren.
ADY MOWLES: It sounded suspicously like he doesn’t even know his name. I’m not too sure Marco is au fait with what is going on to be honest. Those plans were promised, not particularly by him, but he put other people in charge of the whole project. And if he likes to come onto the radio all the time. even more than I and Steve Thorpe do, then he needs to get his facts right first. There’s loads of things. This shouldn’t have been a difficult thing Paul. A community stadium is what everybody wants. A community stadium would be brilliant for, perfect, the community. It would have been good for the club. It would have been good for people who aren’t Posh fans. It would have been good for people who are listening to this going, I can’t believe the whinging. We spent £8 million quid on their football ground, and they’re still moaning. We’re moaning because everyhting should have been better. And Marco’s equation of what successful is is summed up by Cathedral Square. So I’m not too sure I’m going to give him too much credence. I was there on that night. And he got a big cheer, probably the only time that the Council Chambers had had people standing up and cheering. It was a great decision to buy the football ground, and the correct one, after it was sold from under the football club by, including people at the Council of 5 or 6 or 7 years ago, who were part of ..
PAUL STAINTON:Yes. Let’s not get into that …
ADY MOWLES: No no no.
PAUL STAINTON: But I mean, it is a difficult difficult time isn’t it to try and develop anything in this financial climate?
ADY MOWLES: I undertand that. I understand that, and cleverer people than I are involved in various things. But to say one thing and do another, isn’t .. you can’t use the excuse that, ah well businesses don’t want to get involved, or whatever he’s saying. He hasn’t said that. He seems to think it’s all hunky-dory. The Moy’s End was going to be 4 (000). Now it’s going to be 2.5 (000) And we’ve heard strong rumours that it’s going to be even less than that.
PAUL STAINTON:You’re talking seating for fans here?
ADY MOWLES: Yes. £9 million quid. It is pathetic. What is costing £9 million? I wouldn’t ever want a stadium like the six-fingered people over at Northampton have got. But that cost probably half of that, and it’s not good enough for us. But what are we talking about spending £9 million quid on some classrooms? He was supposed to have all sorts of things that could be used, like concert facilities, and all sorts. It’s all just not happened. What Marco needs to do, call a meeting with the people who are actually doing the ground, and not him. He’s on about the South Stand being brand new. It’s sixteen years old, seventeen years old.
PAUL STAINTON:It was brand new when I was sports editor here, when I was about twelve.
ADY MOWLES: Exactly. So he doesn’t actually know what he’s on about, bless him. And he’s trying his best to be everything to everybody, and he can’t be. It really should not be a difficult thing to do. And we’re going to end up with a mish-mash. We’re going to end up with a Moy’s End looking like it’s going to look like, with a greenhouse in one corner. And then we’re going to end up with the North Stand is going to look like whatever it’s going to look like eventually, whenever that may be. That’s a death-trap. That’s got asbestos and everything in the roof, so God knows how long that’s going to take. And the London Road end is going to look like that’s going to look. They’re all going to look completely different, because they’re going to be within, I don’t know, eight, ten years, of each other. And designs change. And for him to just blithely say, oh it’s going to be an all-seater stadium. Well he needs to talk to people. There is a thing called safe standing, and we as a supporters’ group, including the Trust and PISA, are pushing for the safe standing option at London Road end. So he doesn’t even know anything about that. So he really needs, bless him, instead of just coming on the radio and doing his high-pitched voice when he thinks he’s making a big point, he needs to know what he’s talking about, and talk to the people who are going to use that facility. And as I say, that should be a community facility. And it could be, but obviously not in his plans.
PAUL STAINTON:Yes. Are you confident? Because it sounds like there’s a lot of frustration at Posh as well beneath what Darragh is saying, what everybody else is saying? Are you confident all this can be resolved somehow?
ADY MOWLES: I’m confident it ould be, if the people on the Council wanted it to be. It seems to me that it’s been fobbed off. They’e done the .. they seem to want to satisfy maybe the gobby people like myself, and the Trust etcetera, about buying the ground. And once they’ve bought the ground, they’ve gone, oh no, what do we do now? I think it was summed up on the night by Charlie Swift. He said he didn’t agree with the ground being bought, but he would vote for it. So he couldn’t lose. He got his way both ways. If people said to him, why did you vote for it, he said well i did stand up and say I was against it. And it seems to me that there’s a lot of people who are now looking at the plans who aren’t really that bothered about the whole stadium issue. And if they are, get them on the radio, rather than the voice-piece. Because they’re the people that should be on. There are various people, whose names I don’t know, but Paul Froggitt definitely would know, who are in conversation with the supporters’ groups, that Marco’s never referred to once. And if he had have done, he’s have known a bit more about the subject. And that’s not having a go at Marco per se. The decision to buy the football ground was a correct one, in my opinion, for the city. It just needs sorting out better, and we do not want to go down the Cathedral Square route.
PAUL STAINTON:Needless to say Mr Mowles, we will be on it.
ADY MOWLES: I’m glad you’re on it. I’m absolutely glad you’re on it, because there’s nobody else in this city is. And like I say, let’s get the people who are dealing with the issue talking, and not Marco.