By the time that this newsletter is distributed tenders should have been received by the City Council for the building of the new Moy’s End stand; let’s hope that a firm timescale for the building will follow soon. The present programme is for the existing stand to close after the end of this season, demolition to immediately start with the building of the new stand to be complete for handover to the club in July 2013 (the completion of the associated STEM centre taking a little longer). Some advance work, mainly to floodlight re-arrangement, will start in March.
Car parking – or the lack of it – during the redevelopment is still being discussed by the club and council and most of what is envisaged is not good news. There will be some parking space at the back of Moy’s/old Elliots site area but this be for coaches only. Additional parking spaces will be provided when the demolition of the old bowling alley block is completed but this will be almost wholly for club officials and players, with perhaps a small amount of disabled parking available. Parking spaces for fans immediately next to the ground can, therefore, be assumed to be zero. A positive suggestion that is being made, however, is for the club to be offered the old Matalan/B&Q sites for match-day parking as it is not envisaged that these sites will be redeveloped for a few years yet.
The prospects for the redevelopment of the London Road end are worrying. Next season will be count as the third in which the Posh will be in the Championship (which they will be, won’t they?!!!) and this is the limit that is set by the authorities for the stadium to become all-seater. If firm plans are in place for a new stand a year’s extension can probably be obtained but almost certainly no more. The Council have stated that a new stand must be self-funding; that is: a developer must be found for the whole London Road end area, garage, shops and stand, whose financial input will fund the whole project. The Council are drawing up designs for a development, including the stand, but it will be far from easy, in the present economic climate, for them to find such input.
An answer to these problems is, of course, for it to become unnecessary to have an all-seater stadium and on that front some progress is being made.
The Trust recently held a meeting with interested parties to discuss the possibilities for Safe Standing at London Road. Present were Cllr Janet Goodwin and representatives from the Council’s design and project management team and the Council’s safety advisory group as well as from the club and supporters’ groups. Jon Darch, from the national Federation of Football Supporters, gave an update to the meeting on the progress of the national campaign for Safe Standing.
Jon said that in his meetings with many club owners and CEOs, during his progress around the country with the Safe Standing road-show, most had expressed the desire to introduce rail-seat standing areas into their club’s stadiums. However, they had been reluctant to ‘go out on a limb’ and make public declarations of their wishes as individual clubs. A number had said that if agreement could be reached with other clubs to make a joint statement then they would be willing to participate and add their voice. Jon is working on the clubs to try to format a joint statement that they can agree.
Such statement from a number of clubs is increasingly possible because of two recent advances regarding the Safe Standing issue. Firstly, a month or so ago the Scottish League clubs voted to trial Safe Standing at their grounds. It looks very likely that Celtic, Rangers and possibly Aberdeen (amongst others) may soon convert areas of conventional seating to rail-seat areas; this leaves the English Premier and Championship leagues isolated in Europe in insisting on all-seater stadium. Secondly, a few weeks ago, Aston Villa ‘broke cover’ and announced that they wish to attempt to have trial areas of standing at Villa Park. Jon is very hopeful that this will prove the catalyst for other clubs, that are known to be in favour, to publically declare their wishes. To Jon’s personal knowledge two other Premiership clubs and some half a dozen Championship clubs are either strongly in favour or at the very least supportive of the concept being explored further and, as he has so far only spoken to representatives of a minority of the 44 clubs, suspects that many more are.
Cllr Goodwin confirmed that the Council were, in principle, in favour of the idea, as it seemed clear that this was the wish of a considerable proportion of the fans, but did stress that the cost would probably be the over-riding factor in the council’s considerations. Bob Symns also confirmed the position of the club as being in favour of Safe Standing areas – as he had stated on several previous occasions.
Jon Darch is arranging contact between PCC design officers and the architects for the Bristol City stadium, who had done a considerable amount of works in producing alternative designs – including rail-seat provision – for their new stadium, to explore the alternatives that could be possible for the new London Road end stand.
It is good that the local organisations with influence are ‘on-side’ with the idea; all that remains is to convince the minister for sport, the SGSA, the premier league and the FA to join them and the jobs done.
Paul Froggitt 29/01/12