Catlin’s call for outside cash to help develop Fratton Park

THE much-debated upgrade of Fratton Park will need funds from outside the club according to Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin, who has reaffirmed that the owners are still not ruling out moving away from their 120-year-old home.

Plans to increase the stadium capacity to around 30,000 will require a large-scale redevelopment, with improvements in transport links and facilities around the ground also required.

The first part of the work would see extensive work at the Milton End with the club close to releasing artists’ impressions of the completed work.

But the club has confirmed the need for help from the local council and Network Rail, with Catlin saying: “We’re saying ‘meet us halfway’. We’re willing to invest money in the ground, but the transport infrastructure also has to improve.

Catlin was speaking on BBC Radio Solent ahead of the release of the artists’ impressions which will allow the fans to see the outcome of the planned work. He added: “That (Milton Road work) is just the start, which unlocks a whole wider development involving the North Stand too.

“We would want to put that straight into a planning application after consultation with the fans.

“It’s a very, very big project, and until we get some real help from elsewhere, we’re not really going to commit to starting it, so we can’t put a timescale on it.

“We’re a football club with a stadium that we want to do a wider development of. We hope it will create a lot of employment opportunities for the potential regeneration of the whole Fratton area, which needs a lot of investment.

Catlin also raised the prospect of the club moving away from the site they have occupied since 1899, adding: “There are sites elsewhere that we’re really, really loathed to explore.

“But if that’s the future of the football club and what’s in the best interests of giving these fans what they deserve – a 21st century stadium – then we have to look at it.

“We really want to stay at Fratton Park and hopefully we can galvanise support with our plans and build for the future.”

• Pompey’s home game against Fleetwood, postponed by the visitors due to international call-ups, has been rearranged for Tuesday March 10 (7.45pm kick-off).