Annual Shareholder’s Meeting: A new stadium is ‘critical’ to the long-term sustainability of Cambridge United
Cambridge United’s director of business Shaun Grady said that a new stadium is “critical” for the long-term sustainability of Cambridge United.
Talks of a new stadium have been in pipeline for a while and Grady said a collaborative effort between landowner Grosvenor, developers Wrenbridge and themselves is still taking place.
Indeed, one of the key shortfalls in the finances in the last financial year was the fact that the expected money from the corporate and catering departments did not live up to expectations.
And Grady added that being able to build both the corporate side of the club– as well as housing the work of the Cambridge Community Trust and attracting more fans – is vital.
“Grosvenor have been extraordinarily supportive of the club throughout this period and are working with us very closely and with Wrenbridge for the redevelopment of the stadium here at the Abbey site.
“I can only go by what I’ve observed on a fairly frequent basis over the last weeks and months, and I see a very supportive landlord, owner of the underlying freehold, who is working with us and Wrenbrige collaboratively to find a future solution for a new stadium at the Abbey site.
“I think Steve [Chamberlain, director of finance] and I will both be emphasising to the shareholder’s the critical importance of a new stadium for the long term sustainability for the football club.
“It will give us a platform to expands the great work the Trust do, it will provide a new stadium which will attract more supporters, more families new to Cambridge or maybe [already] in Cambridge and it will also give us the opportunity to increase the off the field corporate entertainment and revenues by having facilities fit for purpose. So it really is key.”
Grady did add that the team working in the corporate entertainment side of things were doing well in attracting new sponsors – particularly through the Club Cambridge scheme – but emphasised that there could be no replacement for purpose-built facilities.
“What I would say was I think the team are doing great work in attracting new corporate sponsor and expanding the relationship,” he said.
“The Club Cambridge corporate entertainment has been a huge success, it was a huge experiment and there were a few doubters but I think that’s worked really well so I think we’re making good progress there and I can see both Darktrace, [Chamberlain’s] company, and AstraZeneca [the company Grady works for] being part of that is some evidence of that.
“It’s interesting how big companies work. If you get a few big companies involved in these things, more big companies tend to come because they see the networking and business community benefits so I do think we’re making good progress with Nick Fairbairn [head of partnerships] and Henry [Comfort, head of business].
“But moving to a new stadium with bespoke, designed meeting rooms, it’s just a completely different opportunity alongside much, much improved facilities for the footballers. So those two things go hand in hand.”
Grady added that one of the key motivations for Paul Barry’s further investment in the club was the new stadium, and offering financial cover for any time they may spend playing elsewhere during redevelopment.
“The motivation for further investments from Paul was looking ahead to the potential of a new stadium which may involve relocation away from the site while construction works are going on,” he said.
“So part of it was where and how do we find the financial security, the buffer, that would allow us to explore the opportunity of a new stadium and actually Paul was minded to make further investment for that reason alone, in addition to the non-football activities not given us the closer to break even that we had hoped.”