McInnes weighs up Fratton Park renovation

An artists' impression how Faratton Park will look with a new Tesco store built on the existing Fratton end car park
An artists' impression how Faratton Park will look with a new Tesco store built on the existing Fratton end car park

Iain McInnes has delivered his cast-iron pledge.

‘The money might as well be in a lead-lined vault,’ said the Pompey chairman.

‘It is ring fenced for ground development and that is all it will be used for and all it can be used for.

‘You have my guarantee on that, you have my word.

‘I am not aware of a clause that says the only thing you can do is develop a particular stand with this money, it basically just says ground improvements.’

Portsmouth Football Club is preparing to catch a seven-figure windfall following the Tesco go-ahead.

This week Britain’s biggest supermarket chain staggeringly overstated forecast profits by £250m, prompting the suspension of four executives.

With impeccable timing, the government have granted planning permission for Point Estates Ltd to build on the Fratton end car park.

Pompey president and property developer Stuart Robinson is the figurehead of the company, who will lease the finished construction to Tesco.

As part of the agreement, the Blues will receive a ‘substantial’ amount from Point Estates but only when a deal with Tesco is signed off – a prospect Robinson has already told The News he remains confident of.

Considering Pompey have not owned the car park since it was divided up by Sacha Gaydamak on August 26, 2009, it is perceived as a bonus by those presently running the club.

The precise windfall figure is a fiercely-guarded secret at Fratton Park, labelled as commercially sensitive whenever the question is raised.

Regardless, the sum has been earmarked for ground improvements.

According to Pompey chairman McInnes, the North Stand and Milton end are the likely recipients of such an overhaul at the 116-year-old stadium.

A club board meeting scheduled for October 14 will now explore the development options.

Meanwhile, McInnes has also promised a larger scale debate among fans.

He said: ‘When Point Estates and Tesco conclude their arrangements, the football club – as promised – will benefit significantly from the prerequisite agreement.

‘It is a significant amount of money and very much the tip of the iceberg for what we need to develop the ground in the way most of us would like to see.

‘It gives you a nice little chunk of money in the bank and anybody involved in trying to raise funds for a project will know having a chunk of your own money always makes it much easier to go out and raise other funds.

‘There will be vigorous and, hopefully, visionary debate on the utilisation of those funds wherever possible but short of a referendum.

‘Ideas and initiatives as they develop will be shared with the fans – as the owners and the most loyal supporters in existence.

‘It is eternally difficult for people who are not involved at face level to fully comprehend just how complicated this whole club previously was in its structure, no matter how open we try to be about it.

‘That piece of land hadn’t been owned by this football club for a long, long time. There were lots of different names associated and other bits of land around the ground.

‘I remember my first look at the ownership of Fratton Park and the surrounding areas.

‘If you coloured in each representing a different owner we would run out of the rainbow!

‘The reality of life is the council have stuck firmly by their plan, which basically said whatever happens there has got to be a benefit to the football club.

‘Until now, I don’t think many people have ever come up with a plan that would have benefitted the club.

‘This is a bonus, you can’t look at it any other way. But, in fairness, it is a bonus that has been worked for by both the club and the council, who should be given full credit for that – as indeed should the developer.

‘Despite the most arduous and expensive land transactions with a backcloth of rumoured competitors who all turned out to be either phantom or self-publicists, Stuart Robinson stuck by his guns.

‘We have still got to be sensible, there is a lot of money required to develop the football club these days and this is the start of a project which is going to be exciting.

‘It’s about being able to deliver commitments as opposed to breaking them and show when we say we’ll do something, we actually mean it and deliver as promised.’

In addition to receiving a sum, Pompey will also be the recipients of several pieces of land.

That includes an area behind the North Stand, with a new car park to be built there as a matter of priority.

Once completed, Point Estates will then begin construction on the Fratton end car park it has allowed the club to continue using for the past year.

In the meantime, many have their own ideas on how to implement Fratton Park improvements.

McInnes added: ‘It is fair to say we would all have slightly different opinions about perhaps where to start.

‘Given the Milton end needs to be redeveloped anyway to get full usage, knocking it down and restructuring it maybe would be a small but affordable step to take.

‘You could rebuild it with desirable corporate facilities and integrated boxes.

‘A new North Stand is another option and, of course, the two needn’t be mutually exclusive.

‘However, any kind of major North Stand structure is obviously going to cost a lot of money, I wouldn’t even venture a figure.

‘We would need to raise significant funds and I think that can only be done with the help of additional partners.

‘I believe we should be looking at a 28,500 stadium – or something like that – and the North Stand would be critical from an attendance factor.

‘There is plenty to discuss – and I would be daft not to be excited!’