Portsmouth remain committed to next stage of Fratton Park redevelopment - but additional capacity proposal unlikely

Pompey owners Tornante have already spent circa £12m on the redevelopment of Fratton Park - but a new North Stand remains in their sights
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A new North Stand remains a priority for Pompey.

That’s according to Pompey chief executive Andy Cullen, who reiterated the club’s commitment to the next stage of Fratton Park’s redevelopment at the most recent meeting of the Tony Goodall Fans’ Conference.

The Blues – who were represented by Cullen, Rich Hughes, Tony Brown and Mark Judges at the February 3 get-together – were asked about the possibility of filling in the remaining corners of Fratton Park with additional seating.

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In answering, the Pompey CEO conceded it was unlikely as the numbers of extra seats likely to be created would be disproportionate to the costs involved in such a project. Instead, the next move to increasing the ground's capacity remained extending the North Stand. That’s something Cullen stressed as he once again outlined the benefits of such a project – not just to Pompey, but to the wider local area.

When the subject of additional seating and the potential of filling in the corners either side of the Fratton End was raised, the Pompey chief responded: ‘They are notoriously challenging to do. At a previous club I was involved in the redevelopment of an 8,000-seater stand. We then went on to compete a corner infill with the 750 seats which was around 40 per cent of the cost of the entire 8,000-seater stand.

‘We have looked at the possibility of filling in corners at Fratton Park to add extra seating. We could do it, but it would be hugely expensive to do compared to the relatively small number of seats that would be delivered.

‘The main priority has to be the North Stand. That’s important not just for adding significantly more seats, but in the context of enabling the wider development of the area north of the stand, including for mixed commercial/residential properties as has been outlined in the Portsmouth Local Plan.

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‘It would be a huge expense, partly financed by the extra income we’d make from the wider development and increased ROI (return on investment) from future revenue from ticketing and other commercial activities projected from within any new redeveloped stand.’

A new North Stand has been on the agenda since Tornante became owners in August 2017. It’s estimated that proposed redevelopment work would increase numbers by 5-8,000 and take Fratton Park’s capacity beyond the 25,000 mark.

The cost of such an ambitious project could rise to between £60-70m – which is significantly more than the £12m spent on previous work undertaken at PO4 under Michael Eisner’s stewardship. But Pompey would look to build 500 dwellings, a hotel and commercial units on club land around Rodney Road to fund their aspirations.

In addition, the neighbouring Pompey Centre are proposing 250 residential dwellings and additional commercial use, representing large-scale regeneration of the area. However, any proposed North Stand development will not receive planning permission unless a new Fratton railway station footbridge is constructed alongside improved customer capabilities.

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When asked specifically about the footbridge, Cullen added: 'I had a meeting with Stephen Morgan (MP) and Network Rail at Westminster recently, which has given us access to other people as well. The next stage of these discussions is to work towards delivering a bridge feasibility study and we are making constructive progress on this.'