Port Vale Chairman Norman Smurthwaite has indicated that he is looking to build a block of apartments on the corner of the Vale Park stadium.
In a post about the Vale Park floodlights on the OVF forum, Smurthwaite said: “That mast [between the Lorne St stand and the Hamil Road end] is being replaced and bought forward towards the pitch as l am applying for planning permission to build apartments in that corner.”
It is a sensible decision by the club to look to maximise non-matchday revenue and an approach that has been adopted by several other clubs. Leyton Orient has flats in the corners of their ground, Brentford are planning 910 flats around their new stadium while Bristol Rovers’ new stadium design originally incorporated student accommodation along one side.
This website has been stating for some time that for clubs of Vale’s size to continue to exist, it is vital that the club maximises the non-matchday revenue. I therefore welcome this proposed move by Norman Smurthwaite.
Nowadays, most clubs realise that it’s vital to increase their income on the days when football isn’t played. After all, each club will probably only play around twenty home games a year so that leaves another 300-odd days when the club would be earning nothing unless it has a second string of income.
Corporate events such as business meetings, weddings and Christmas will help but nowadays most clubs are much more ambitious than this.
If you go to the Ground Developments page on the influential Football Ground Guide website, you will notice a common trend – almost every Football League club engaged in or planning ground improvements is adding property or hotels or commercial premises to their plans.
Just look at these examples –
• Oldham Athletic’s new stand – retail space, a gym and conference facilities
• Northampton Town’s new stand – Hotel and Conference Centre
• Scunthorpe Utd’s new stadium – Hotel, a gym and other commercial property
• Brentford’s new stadium – 910 flats and a Hotel • Bristol Rovers’ new stadium – flats, gym and ability to host concerts
• Plymouth Argyle’s new stand – Hotel, cinema and retail space
• Southend United’s proposed new stadium – to include a Hotel, conference facilities and residential accommodation
• AFC Wimbledon’s proposed new stadium – 602 flats, local retail space and fitness centre
It’s clear to me that Vale will be missing out financially if the Valiants cannot also bring in some additional revenue streams. If we don’t follow this trend, our rivals, with their extra revenue, will be outstripping us in the transfer market.
Rob Fielding – OVF Editor