Portsmouth chairman reaffirms commitment to £40m-plus project that will take Fratton Park to the next level

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Michael Eisner has reaffirmed his commitment to extending the North Stand at Fratton Park.

The Pompey chairman insisted there was demand for an improved structure that would increase the Blues’ capacity to above 25,000.

The project would cost north of £40m, which is significantly more than the £11.5m refurbishment work that continues at PO4, with focus now centred on the Milton End.

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Eisner stressed that the club would remain debt free once the green light was given on the ambitious plans that would also incorporate a hotel and conferencing facilities. Yet obstacles remain in place that complicates progress, including the Blues’ continued League One status and the need to construct a new Fratton railway station footbridge.

The American, though, is confident solutions will be found, claiming that a new-look North Stand ‘absolutely’ needed to be done.

When asked in his latest interview with the club what the conditions needed to be like for the £40m-plus work to begin, he said: ‘I think it’s going to be very expensive but (it’s) something that we will eventually do. And we will do it because there is demand for it, which we believe there is, particularly if we move up.

‘We’ll do it because we have the right CEO, who’s done this before, developing other usage of facilities on non game-day times – hotels, conference centres, marriage halls, all sorts of things like that.

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‘But it is complicated. There’s a lot of consistencies that need to come together. We have a railroad bridge, we have obviously land we don’t own, we have financial considerations, we have where we are in the leagues. But eventually we have to do it.

Michael Eisner has reiterated his determination to extend the North Stand at Fratton Park   Picture: Robin JonesMichael Eisner has reiterated his determination to extend the North Stand at Fratton Park   Picture: Robin Jones
Michael Eisner has reiterated his determination to extend the North Stand at Fratton Park Picture: Robin Jones

‘Do I want to do the North Stand? Does Andy Cullen really want to do the North Stand? Absolutely.

‘But it is an enormous amount of funding and there’s still other places we have to fund. We have to fund the academy, the training ground still needs a lot of funding, there’s the Milton stand and then regular maintenance, not including funding for what happens on the pitch.

‘So there’s a lot of requirements, financial requirements, none of which will be in debt, but our goals are aligned, it’s just not going to happen next season.

‘We have to see where we go.’

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Eisner ended this segment of his interview by focusing on the footbridge, with planning permission unlikely to get the go-ahead unless one is installed to significantly reduce the pedestrian use of Goldsmith Avenue.

Discussions have been held with key stakeholders, including Network Rail and the city council, to find a solution. But, to date, nothing has been agreed.

Eisner concluded: ‘I definitely want that bridge. I’m praying for the bridge. If we don’t get the bridge, we can’t do any of it.

‘So we’ve got to get the bridge, we’ve got to get railroad to agree, city council, all of that.’