Design & Development

Cambridge set to progress stadium plans after agreeing deal with fans

Abbey Stadium, Cambridge

Featured image credit: Steve Daniels/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size

Cambridge United has reached an agreement with its fans that paves the way for the redevelopment of Abbey Stadium.

The third-tier English Football League One club is to spend £1.5m on a new Supporters Club building, allowing the existing one to be demolished. In return, the club will be gifted an area of land owned by the Supporters Club to allow redevelopment work to go ahead.

Under the deal agreed earlier this week, the existing building will only be demolished once the new one has been erected to ensure a continuation of service. The announcement comes just over a year after the club regained ownership of its stadium after acquiring it from property developer, manager and investor Grosvenor.

Paul Barry, the club’s majority shareholder, was delighted by the development having recently said the Supporters Club building was blocking redevelopment of Abbey Stadium.

“This is vital to our progression as a football club,” said Barry. “It is potentially a very big step forward for Cambridge United as it unlocks the opportunity to develop, modernise, increase the capacity of the Abbey Stadium and improve what we offer for all our supporters.”

The agreement is subject to being ratified at an extraordinary general meeting of club members in November. Detailed redevelopment plans for the 8,127 capacity will be announced in the new year, but will include the upgrading of the Newmarket Road and Habbin stands.

Paul Mayes, trustee of the Supporters Club, said, “[We] have been in negotiations with the club to move forward together and take this exciting redevelopment of the Abbey Stadium to the wider community. Each party has made concessions and although there are still very challenging times ahead, we are confident about moving forward together.”

The club has already acquired a number of plots of land around the stadium, including a car hire site and a residential property.

“Whilst this is a key step forward which allows us to move to the next stage of planning, pricing and designing the project, a lot of hard work and multiple challenges lie ahead,” Barry said.

Barry previously said that the club has two options on the table for the redevelopment of Abbey Stadium. One would be a modernisation of the venue that would require significant investment but allow the club to grow its capacity and commercial revenues. Barry said this option would allow Cambridge to “keep pace” with other clubs.

The other option, which Barry described as “effectively the status quo”, would include incremental 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 said.