Over the last few months, a number of issues have been raised by supporters, many of which were discussed in detail with various supporters' groups in November of last year. We would like to take this opportunity to provide a further update on these discussions.
In the summer of 2021 we opened an interim ‘Fan Zone’ with a marquee in the Alan Kelly Town End car park. Whilst this has served a purpose, it was always intended to be a temporary solution.
We apologise to the supporters, it was never our intention that a permanent solution would take this long.
Over the last two years we have looked at a number of locations within the stadium to site a permanent fan zone. Given that much of the space under the stands is not currently ours to use, finding the right space, in terms of fit out costs, health and safety regulations and logistics, has been difficult.
We can now confirm that we have reached an agreement with Heartbeat to take back, on a permanent basis, the old Finney’s cafe which we will fit out as a permanent fan zone. This will include a new permanent entrance for Heartbeat to the right hand side of their current entrance.
Our target date for opening is Easter Monday, 10th April 2023 when we host Reading at Deepdale, which we believe will be sufficient time to finalise designs and complete the investment required to get it ready in time for Easter. In the meantime we will consult with Preston Supporters Collective and other supporter representatives with regard to the fit out and a new name for this PNE Fan Zone.
Kit Supplier and Retail Store
There has been a lot of discussion regarding our current kit supply arrangements and the retail store. Decisions on our kit partner were made well before the end of 2022. Current contractual commitments, as we have previously highlighted in discussions with supporter representatives, have precluded us making any announcements with regard to the way forward before the end of this month.
We will be making an announcement with regard to both kit supplier and the retail proposal as early in February as practicable.
There has been regular feedback on various elements of our existing catering provision throughout the stadium. We are aware that, particularly fans in the concourses, feel let down by the current service standards and quality.
This has resulted in dialogue and meetings between not only the club and Heathcotes, but also supporter representatives and Heathcotes on improvements that we would all like to see going forward.
We have taken the opportunity to look at all options for the future with regard to catering supplier, considering both existing and alternative external suppliers. Extensive reviews of operations and also proposals from potential new partners have been undertaken by the club.
Our existing contract requires such discussions to be completed by 31st March 2023. An announcement with regard to our preferred way forward will be made no later than this date.
We are aware that the space between the boxes and the top floor of the Invincibles Pavilion is not the best advert for our stadium. As an interim solution, we have installed, in time for this weekend’s FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur, a mesh advertising solution which we hope in the short term will improve the visual impact of this void space.
There are a number of places throughout the stadium where leaking roofs continue to cause problems. We have attempted to repair these with ongoing maintenance but frankly this hasn’t given us a permanent solution.
We are undertaking a specific survey of each of the roofs at the stadium and will attempt to implement a permanent solution. As this will likely require complete new roofs of certain stands, we envisage undertaking this work during this close season, before the start of season 2023/24.
As soon as we have further updates we will make announcements as appropriate.