The first meeting of the Shadow Board was held on Monday October 17 at the Abbey Stadium...
- Club: Godric Smith (Chair), Dave Matthew-Jones and Alex Tunbridge
- Shadow Board: Andrew Stephen, Ben Payne, Emma Smith, Anouska Wright, Ben Phillips, Nigel Browne, Paul Mayes
Apologies received from Shaun Grady and Jim Hardingham
After introductions all present at the meeting reaffirmed the ambition to make the Shadow Board a productive and constructive forum for Cambridge United. As one of the first of its kind, clearly other clubs were looking at what we were doing and how we were doing it. The Owners and Board, all of whom are fans themselves of the Club themselves, believed its formation could help strengthen the Club at a critical juncture in its development.
The Owners and Board had spent a lot of time over the last two years looking at how best to improve the infrastructure of the Club, recognising the need to improve both the training facilities and the Abbey Stadium. This had resulted in the Stadium buy back from Grosvenor and also the agreement with Clare College on upgrading facilities at Bentley Road. The Club was very grateful to both - and obviously to our Owners without whom it would not have been possible.
The Club took the Shadow Board through the plans for the training ground. The Owners are planning to make an investment of over £2m to fund a new purpose built training centre at the Clare College site. This would be built off site with construction on site in the close season. This is subject to planning approval and an application would be submitted shortly. There have been detailed discussions with the Council and the College over recent months, particularly around the sustainability of the building. This project is currently the biggest property priority for the Club given the amount of time that the playing side spend at Clare, and the coaching staff had been very involved in the design of the building to reflect their needs. Ben Strang and Alex Tunbridge have visited a number of other clubs’ training facilities over recent months.
The Club have appointed architects to look at how we might develop the Abbey Stadium. This would take time, significant investment and planning approval and there is a need for realism in terms of how quickly things could move forward. The Club is looking at this in three stages:
- Stage 1 - The Club will look to develop the front of the ground including club offices, shop etc. The purchase of the Abbey site did not include the Supporters Club and the Club and the Supporters Club are now in positive conversations about the future. The ambition would be for the Club to build a new modern Supporters Club which meets their needs and to move only when it is built to ensure there is no break in continuity. This would need Supporters Club membership approval and there is a plan to hold an EGM at which the Club would present to members when the plans are more developed and there are some designs to share. The Supporters’ Club is clearly important to any redevelopment of the NRE but also essential for access to the redevelopment of the Habbin.
- Stage 2 - The redevelopment of the Habbin would follow, due to access
- Stage 3 - The redevelopment of the Newmarket Road End
The Board gave their feedback on the initial plans and emerging designs which was very helpful and additive. The Club plan to publish initial plans in the coming months for the views of the wider fan base.
Clearly any redevelopment would be subject to formal consultation and planning approvals. There was also discussion of the Golden Share on which the Club will share initial thinking at the next Shadow Board.