England: Cambridge United stadium redevelopment at a crossroads

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola

England: Cambridge United stadium redevelopment at a crossroads Cambridge United finalised a deal last year to buy out its home at Abbey Stadium after 18 years as a tenant. Paul Barry, the owner of the League One club said that the modernisation of the venue is at a "crossroads" ahead of talks with fans.


Abbey Stadium was inaugurated in 1932 and has been home to Cambridge United ever since. In the 1990s, the club had a chance to get promoted to the Premier League, but instead was relegated 4 leagues down. Cambridge has since gone into decline as the team struggled financially. It even had to sell its ground to John Howard's Bideawhile 445 Ltd in December 2004. In March 2010 Abbey Stadium was sold again, this time to Grosvenor Estates. Fortunately, the club was granted a long-term lease to keep the facility as its home. United currently plays in League One, which is the third tier of competition in England. Fans can check out football betting tips.

Last year Cambridge finalised the purchase of the stadium. The acquisition of the arena also included the Thrifty car hire facility at the front of the stadium, as well as a bungalow at the front right of the venue. Once the purchase was done, Paul Barry said the club would upgrade and improve the stadium, but having a Supporters' Club building on site was a potential obstacle.

Abbey Stadium© Bill Blake

The owner is due to meet with the Supporters' Club Committee on August 7. Ahead of the meeting, Barry has published an open letter on the club's website which includes an offer to the Supporters' Club to fund and build a new facility. The official said the club had two options for Abbey Stadium. One would be to upgrade the facility, which would require significant investment but would allow the club to increase capacity and commercial revenue. Barry said this option would allow Cambridge to "keep pace" with other clubs.

The second option, described as the effectively the status quo, would involve phased improvements to the stadium. This would inevitably mean we would be overtaken – not immediately but over time – by other clubs of a similar size with better, more modern facilities who can offer a better spectator experience and generate more non-match day income which they can then reinvest on the pitch, - Barry stated.

He added that if the club did not own the Supporters' Club premises, it would not be able to redevelop Abbey Stadium. The site is seen as critical and the relocation of the building will enable the club to redevelop the Habbin Stand. Barry has offered to provide a new building for the Supporters' Club on the existing stadium site on a 99-year lease, which would include guaranteed parking and access from Newmarket Road.

Abbey Stadium© Jon Wickenden

The football club would cover the cost of constructing and finishing the new building and the Supporters' Club's only financial commitment would be to pay for the maintenance of the building. Cambridge has also committed to legally protecting Abbey Stadium through the Golden Share concept to prevent its future sale. An outline of the stadium expansion project will be revealed next month.