Town Already Planning for Great Leap Forward
Saturday, 3rd Sep 2011 09:40
Chief executive Simon Clegg says the Blues are already making plans for the off-field work which would be required if the club is promoted to the Premier League via an initiative named Project Leap. Town have been away from the top flight for almost a decade now and aspects of Portman Road need modernising, while some Premier League regulations have changed during that time.
Clegg says the club is determined not to be caught on the hop when they finally reach the promised land with only 10 weeks separating the play-off final and the start of the following season: “Project Leap has been around for a year and it’s an exercise for me and the department heads to start getting our minds around what the implications of Premier League football would be.
“What has to be done, how much it’s going to cost, what we would like to do and how much that would cost.”
Amongst the issues addressed so far is the requirement for Premier League away teams to be given 3,000 seats at Portman Road, which would take the current visitors' section in the Cobbold Stand around and beyond the central Block D which houses premium season ticket holders.
Fans in that area were surveyed at the Arsenal Carling Cup match last season – where the away support was at Premier League levels - to find out whether they would like to stay where they are or move after promotion. Clegg says they made their thoughts very evident: “We got a very clear and unequivocal message that they don’t want to move and are quite happy where they are come what may.
“Which is great. I gauged them, explained what the problem was and the implications of it, and gave them the opportunity of experiencing that and got their feedback as a result.”
Project Leap has also looked at the situation with the Portman Road pitch which has required major work for a number of years, despite recently departed groundsman Alan Ferguson still managing to provide a perfect surface.
The restoration, which would cost six figures and require work deep below the surface, wouldn’t be carried out immediately after promotion: “We wouldn’t be able to do that in time for Premier League football because the lead time is too long - you wouldn’t know that you’d been promoted when you'd have to start," explains Clegg.
“Therefore, where our mindset is now is that we would have to factor in major pitch renovations at the end of the first season that we’re in the Premier League, even if we were relegated."
Clegg says there are also plenty of other areas which will need to be assessed as part of Project Leap: “You can see the way my thinking is. There are all sorts of other things we’d need to do - media facilities for the Premier League, for example.”
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