Redman: Work under way on future of Pompey's stadium

The preferred architects are currently being finalised, while somebody has already been parachuted into the club to oversee the project.

Tuesday, 10th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 5:55 am
Tornantes head of acquisitions and investments, David Fields, left, with Andy Redman at Gillinghams Priestfield Stadium on Sunday Picture: Joe Pepler

The precise timeframe is unable to be pinpointed, with Tornante continuing to decline the temptation for big statement proclamations.

Nonetheless, behind the scenes progress is under way in identifying the owners’ ambitions for Pompey’s 118-year-old home.

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There is a preference to remain on the current site – aspirations include a revamped stadium holding at least 30,000 supporters.

Tornante president and Pompey board member Andy Redman insists planning is currently at an early stage.

And with nothing yet decided, he is adamant all options are still on the table.

Redman told The News: ‘The main stuff currently focused on, which is probably seen less publicly, is around the stadium, the training ground and longer-term thinking around players.

‘That has gone extremely well and we have met with a number of architectural groups and whittled it down. We are having another set of meetings this week to really hone in our next steps.

‘We still believe it is true what we said in diligence and the lead up to the acquisition – that a ball-park £5m will be spent simply on health and safety.

‘These are what we would call almost absolutely you must do-type of improvements, they are required at some level.

‘Beyond that we are looking towards the stadium masterplan. Really, that is a much-longer process which needs to involve not just architects but also people like Kenny (Jackett) in the thinking about how the club evolves over time.

‘To be fair to the master planners, I don’t think I should say anything more other than our preference is to stay at Fratton Park. The reason I say that is there’s still a lot of diligence required.

‘Fratton Park has a lot of history and we believe a lot of people underestimate how important that history is. So for us, we are likely, highly likely, to stay at Fratton Park – but are open to other considerations.

‘However, people have to tell us whether we can accomplish what we are talking about before we go and spend money.’

David Fields is Tornante’s trusted head of acquisitions and investments.

However, he has now relocated to Portsmouth for the remainder of the year at least to help supervise the drawing up of the stadium blueprint.

Based at Fratton Park, he is a regular at matches and was also present at Gillingham on Sunday.

Redman added: ‘David is one of Tornante’s members and has moved over here. He’s working both for Mark (Catlin) and Michael (Eisner).

‘He has attended a set of meetings and set trips around the country to observe elements at other clubs, sometimes you can take inspiration.

‘On Friday we visited Craven Cottage, which was not open for a game. We are not going to recreate Craven Cottage, but there are elements done fantastically.

‘We also have the advantage of Michael being from Disney and having built theme parks, hotels, cruise ships and suchlike – so he has a wealth of contacts from the past with relevant experience.

‘Rebuilding the LA Angels’ baseball stadium at Anaheim is maybe slightly less relevant. It’s not a football ground, it’s all the way over on the west coast of America, however there are a lot of similarities to all stadiums.

‘You need to be able to get people in and out, you need to have a certain number of bathrooms, you require a certain amount of access to food and beverage, they all still apply.

‘However, the entire group will not be made up just of people who have worked with Michael before.

‘We are looking for new elements and people who are extremely experienced here in England doing football stadiums that are as close to what we are talking about as possible.

‘Until we pick all those people, it’s hard to know who exactly will sit in all the chairs, but on the whole that is what the group will look like.’

So the development stage continues. And Tornante will not be rushed into reckless decisions during the pursuit of their Fratton Park ambition.

‘Fundamentally, we are open to all ideas, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other,’ said Redman.

‘So we would not go and do it as a first step, just like we would not try to blow up and redesign the academy as a first step, just like we would not ask Kenny Jackett in the January transfer window to bring in a whole crop of new players.

‘We want steady, predictable progress in each of those areas – and done with the support of the staff and the community.

‘It will be an element at a time. It won’t be radical overnight where you walk into the stadium at the start of the 2018-19 season and not recognise Fratton Park.’