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INTERVIEW: We're really excited about it

Brunton Park construction work

31 May 2024


INTERVIEW: We're really excited about it

Brunton Park construction work

31 May 2024

Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens provided an update on construction work at Brunton Park.

Speaking yesterday afternoon, he said: “You always have aspirations. I think we're all targeting the first league game of the season as the time we want to get all of this ready. It is a colossal task to do it in that time, make no mistake about it. To go through a tender process, a procurement process, and then do the work and get it finished in the weeks that we have available is a really tough ask for everybody involved - we're under no illusions about that.

“The aim is to be able to have an unveiling for that first game. We're really excited about it. The designs are still evolving as we speak. We are building and designing at the same time, which is by no means ideal, but it's the only way we're going to have any chance of getting this done. That's not to say that we're cutting corners or anything like that, because what is being looked at is certainly going to create a huge wow factor. I have absolutely no doubt about that whatsoever. It's going to be absolutely brilliant in this stand and raise us to a new level.

“We can see what's coming as things get closer to fruition, and you start to see walls go up and doors being put in and things like this, it becomes real.

“It looks like it's a completed stand, but it isn't. For instance, there's no insulation in this building at all, so the whole of the roof has to be insulated. There's no fireproofing, apart from the small area of offices that we've been in, so the whole of the stand has to be fireproofed from top to bottom. These costs are six-figure sums, and they're going to disappear behind walls that nobody is ever going to see.”

When asked if we would benefit from our opening Sky Bet League Two fixture being played away - to allow a further week of work, Nigel said: “I think in this situation, I always ask for a bit more time. The league fixtures, the way they work, they try and give teams some years a start at home, some years a start away from home. Last year we were at home against Fleetwood on the first day. [Even if we are away this time] we're working to that 10th of August weekend, and that's what the contractors are targeting. 

“I suppose what I would say is that all this work is going on in areas that are not currently used by fans. So subject to the logistics outside the ground, there's not much work going on in the concourse areas or in the main seating areas. It's all hidden behind closed doors. So with the weeks to go, that's all in hand.”

United were delighted to have recently sold-out all seven of their brand new East Stand Executive Boxes on long-term contracts, with one set aside to be sold on a game-by-game basis.

“It's positive on so many levels. We've gone through a period maybe three or four years ago where, from a commercial point of view, it was very difficult for us. Ownership had made it clear that they were looking for new investment and looking to move on. The fans were talking about ambition and vision, and that makes it very difficult then to grow a club and bring people in to join you on a journey, when you don't know where that journey is going to. 

“That's kind of changed overnight, and we've gone from one extreme almost to the other, where there's a real clear view on where we're going. The ambition is real, and you can see it being put into practice right in front of your very eyes in the number of projects that are going on.

“Until you start to then speak to businesses about whether they want to be involved, you don't really know what the response is going to be. So for the boxes to be sold all on long-term deals, all very quickly, is really reassuring that there's support out there for the club and that there's scope for the club to grow - it’s absolutely tremendous. 

“The challenge that then brings for the rest of the club is we've got to keep up with that. So we're currently operating, as I say, with an infrastructure that's being implemented for a completely different sort of club. So we have to change the way we work to be able to deal with all of that.”

Speaking on the work elsewhere around the ground, he added: “It's all going really well. Yeah, there are glitches along the way, but it's all going really nicely. You just walk around, the pylon's gone, the brickworks going up in the Warwick, the land's getting flattened out - that's great. You go in the Neil Centre, that's in a decoration stage, so that's going well. And then you go round to the changing rooms, and that's in a demolition phase. So there's lots of things going on in different phases, but they're all going on quite nicely. So I hope that continues. 

“The stadium is old, and we've talked about it. If we look at something as simple as the changing rooms, you want to upgrade them, make better facilities for players, etc. You go in there and you look about putting new drainage in, you dig a hole, and the drains are kaput. So you need to put new drains in. You go in and you look to put new facilities in, new lights, these sorts of things. You look at the wiring and the wiring can't cope, so you need to rewire. 

“In the East Stand, we've had to upgrade the power supply, so that means we've got to deal with an external power company to put a new power board in for us. 

“It's not a new build, so the ripple effects are difficult, which is why the timetable's really testing, and why it is all hands on deck to get it done. But it's really exciting and everything's going nicely.”

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