Message from Marco Graziano, the new PST Chairman
I am delighted to take on the role of Chairman of the Post Supporters Trust (PST) and to work more closely with its team of dedicated volunteers.
I have been a Posh fan since my middle teens. Being a Posh fan takes courage and conviction…typically, in social gatherings once football moves up the discussion agenda most people will proudly cite allegiance to the likes of Manchester United or Arsenal. When I’m asked “who do you support?” I proudly effuse I’m a Peterborough United fan! An awkward silence then descends in the room so I quickly explain that the Posh are in the 3rd tier of English football…at the moment.
Arguably, the last ten years for Posh fans have been disappointing and exhilarating in equal measure.
Posh excel at extremes…I recall that awful day at Crystal Palace in May 2013.
A tumultuous season and it all came down to the last game. All we needed was a draw. It wasn’t to be. Posh still hold the record for highest number of points (54) for relegation from the Championship.
At the other extreme is the 2011 theatre of dreams League 1 play-off final at Manchester United’s Old Trafford. It was a subdued match which ignited deep into the second half, as Posh struck with three goals in seven crazy minutes.
It was grey and rainy for most of the match, but as the final whistle blew the sun split the clouds and light lit up the pitch as the mighty Posh collected the play-off winner’s cup and promotion to the Championship.
This is my number one memory – an unforgettable day.
Some would say it’s all about the journey and I agree with that sentiment.
My interest in becoming involved with the Trust was the announcement that the London Road Stadium was to be sold to the current club owners. Of particular interest was the discovery by the Trust of the owner’s preferred structure, in which the London Road ground would be held as a separate legal entity from the football club. We are wary of the separation of ownership of a football club from its ground, because it has caused so many difficulties for clubs in the lower leagues up and down the country.
The Trust is supportive of the owners stated wish to move the club to a new site with a new stadium if, as seems likely, London Road cannot be developed into a better stadium with the commercial potential needed to support higher league status.
We want to ensure that there is no risk of the club moving to a less than equivalent stadium, or one in an inconvenient place for supporters to access. We also want to ensure that no move away from London Road would be possible without a new stadium being ready for occupation by the club and for league football.
Our role as the Trust is to remain focused on securing practical assurances in relation to the ground sale by the Peterborough City Council (PCC) and its value as a community asset. Furthermore, the trust will work to transfer the community asset status to any new stadium, to ensure supporters have a role in the long-term future of the club.
The current owners have been working with the PCC and in parallel, the Trust has been involved with both the PCC and the current owners throughout this process.
The primary objective of the Trust is the long-term sustainability of Posh as a vibrant and successful community-orientated football club in Peterborough.
We will update our position on these matters over the coming months, as and when new information is put into the public domain.
Turning now to Barry Bennett who, after 17 years on the PST, is stepping down.
Barry’s contribution to the PST cannot be understated. Barry was involved in the Trust before it was even formed! In 2002, with the football club having been up for sale for over a year and there being a backdrop of apathy and frustration surrounding the future of the football club, Barry was one of seven volunteers that worked with government backed bodies, so that the Trust could become an official recognised body.
Barry was in the vanguard of a small group of passionate volunteers that produced a set of draft rules for the Trust to adopt, as well as contacting local businesses to ‘spread the word’ about the Trust, to enable the raising of funds so that the Trust could develop its role as a professional group within the framework of a charitable legal entity.
During Barry’s 17 years he has held the positions of Chairman, Treasurer, Gold Bond Manager, Membership Secretary and Newsletter Editor to name but a few. He led the original Trust’s application for beneficial status to be conferred to the Trust under the 2011 Localism Act. This act created provisions for local, formally organised community groups to have a statutory role when designated assets of community value (ACV) are subject to ownership changes. The Trust gained this status in respect of the London Road Stadium back in 2014 and we have applied and been granted ACV status again in 2019, which will run for another 5 years.
Barry’s more recent notable role was as Gold Bond Manager, where he has continued to raise funds for the Trust, in what is our principal source of income.
Barry represented not only the Trust, but all Posh fans at meetings with the Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, PUFC and Peterborough City Council on issues such as the Moy’s End re-development, safe standing and the potential sale of London Road.
The current Board are indebted to Barry for all he has done for the Posh Supporters Trust.
Barry has agreed to continue as Treasurer until a replacement is found and he has also agreed to continue to help the Trust with the Gold Bond scheme.
I would like to place on record our appreciation for a remarkable Posh supporter, who has sacrificed so much of his personal time to ensure Posh fans voices are heard right across the community.
If you have any personal messages for Barry please send them to me at our email address; firstname.lastname@example.org
Marco Graziano (PST Chairman)
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