Mark Catlin: Redeveloped North Stand remains Portsmouth ambition - regardless of new maintenance programme

Pompey’s North Stand vision remains intact – despite the unveiling of an improvement programme for the 84-year-old structure.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 6:03 pm
Despite currently undergoing 'essential' maintenance, Pompey still have development plans for Fratton Park's North Stand. Picture: Joe Pepler

Mark Catlin has reassured supporters that workscheduled to last 14 weeks will not impact on the club’s long-term ambition for that area of the ground.

The North Stand is regarded as pivotal to a redeveloped Fratton Park, should Michael Eisner retain his preference for the Blues remaining at their home.

In the meantime, the stand is undergoing essential maintenance and safety work, costing approaching £1m.

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The project will largely replicate South Stand work carried out from March 2019 until last summer, consisting of replacing the roof, bolstering cladding and reinforcing its structure.

And Catlin is adamant the current undertaking does not alter aspirations for a new North Stand further down the line.

Pompey’s chief executive said: ‘It’s not a redevelopment at all, it does not form any long-term thinking of the North Stand. Unfortunately it’s just a very expensive job which needs to be done to keep that stand open while we choose to review our options.

‘What’s going on in the North Stand at the moment is totally irrelevant to the larger picture. This was actually needed just to keep it open.

‘If you look at the revenue that stand generates, it would make no financial sense to not have it open for a season or two.

‘This money needed to be spent and had to be spent and, at some point in the future, there is a chance and possibility that it will have to come down.

‘This is required to keep the stand open at this moment. The health and safety of our supporters is priority for us.

‘The North Stand obviously gives us the greatest opportunity to extend the stadium generally.

‘I think anyone that knows Fratton Park is aware of that and it’s something we continue to pursue – but we are reliant on our commercial and public partners to make sure we can realise that dream.’

Pompey had scheduled North Stand work to commence at the 2019-20 season’s end.

However, the postponement of the football campaign has prompted plans to be brought forward, with the club capitalising on the ground presently rendered out of action.

Catlin added: ‘It’s a mammoth job and predominantly the roof and the cladding at the back will be addressed.

‘The actual enclosure of the stand itself is also suffering with corrosion and there are obviously concerns for its integrity as a result.

‘I did say a while ago now there’s a requirement over a five-year rolling period to carry out work just to keep the stadium functioning. It had been poorly neglected over previous decades.

‘This North Stand work is not a vanity profit or about looking good or using bit of paint, these are actual structural works just to keep the stand open.’

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