Fratton Park: What the £ 10million redevelopment plans say about Pompey’s future and the Eisners’ engagement
Q What do you think of the latest projects for Fratton Park?
Yes, they are generally encouraging.
This is a financial commitment from Michael Eisner to the tune of £ 10million now, of which £ 10million has already been invested.
You can draw some conclusions from this.
In terms of an all singing and dancing stadium, it’s really a drop in the ocean in terms of the financial commitment for it.
But it is a step in the right direction.
We know about Michael Eisner’s commitment to Fratton Park and his preference to stay there – this is just another example of this.
It is much needed work, desperately needed indeed.
Q The work begins immediately and will last four years. This proves that maintaining Fratton Park is expensive and time consuming, but how achievable is this commitment in the long term?
A lot of money is invested in it.
I think people view the Fratton redevelopment as a cheap option – it isn’t.
It’s probably easier and it probably makes more financial sense to go to a purpose built site because there are so many costs associated with a stadium that is over 100 years old.
I’ve spoken to Mark Catlin about this on a number of occasions and I think Mark has his personal take on what he’s always kept to himself because he knows Michael Eisner strongly promotes Fratton Park romance.
We all love the old maid, don’t we, but I have to refer to the fact that every Pompey fan, and I remember back in 1992, I went to do my diary along Pompey Parkway in Farlington and all the talk said ‘here comes’ with false dawn ever since – crazy plans in The Hard and the one on Horsea Island.
Thinking about it yesterday, I’m not sure I will ever see England win a major tournament and I’m not sure I will see a Pompey stadium all singing and dancing. But I love Fratton Park, we all love it, but it needs to be adapted for a modern era.
Q Why now? Is it because of the pandemic and doubts about fans returning next season? There will ultimately be reduced capacity due to ongoing work. Or does the Milton End project have something to do with it?
The timing works based on what they’ve already had to do during the pandemic – and, again, the uncertainty is moving forward with reduced capacity.
There is also, let’s face it, a political game being played here with the main actors of the locality.
We know of the Fratton station walkway, which is absolutely imperative, but who will bear the costs associated with it.
It’s a long-standing saga, so I wouldn’t rule out how it ended, started because of it.
I should also mention that there has been, in regards to the Eisner engagement, a lot of talk about what’s going to happen with Roko (training ground) and Pompey’s place in that.
In theory, you could have a purpose built stadium if you were to buy Roko and Rugby Camp around.
This could be used as leverage throughout the Fratton Park debate, so I wouldn’t downplay the importance of that in the whole narrative, either.
Where are we with the Milton End?
We know that a building permit was granted last August and it looks like it will go into the current process.
But it looks like the Milton End is the least bit of engagement with all the work that needs to take place.
Pompey fans probably don’t care, but I wouldn’t like to be an outside fan and use the toilets in Milton End – they’re in the dark ages and probably some of the worst I’ve ever seen , then they need to update it. The key, however, for me, is that all the essence of a new Fratton Park is on the north stand and where the huge company facilities will be inside.
It would be a huge financial commitment, but for it to work you need this booth. Now, with this work costing £ 10million over four years, does that raise a question about this big engagement at the north stand and if it’s going to happen? this pushes him back a bit as it doesn’t make sense to spend £ 10million on the work advertised if it is imminent.
Q Michael Eisner will fund the redevelopment, which will cost £ 10million. Will it calm down those who question his commitment to the club and his ambitions for it?
Probably not for conspiracy theorists – there are a lot of people out there who have already made up their minds.
Just looking at social media and the response to engagement, the reasonable, middle-of-the-road fan says “well that’s a definite retaliation to people who raise doubts about Eisners’ long-term commitment to. Pompey “It’s not, in modern terms, what you need for an all-sing-and-dance stadium, but it’s a big commitment. And we know that other funds have been invested by the Eisners.
They got Pompey cheaply, let’s say it, but they made a financial commitment with a pot of money they invested (£ 10million) which has now likely been used during the Covid pandemic.
But now they still have £ 10million for Fratton Park so I think that’s probably a strong retaliation.
Again, with discussions – and we’re talking right now – of Roko possibly being bought by the club, that’s another big financial commitment.
So this is probably a good answer for those who doubt the Eisners and the strength of their commitment to Pompey.