Tuesday afternoon saw Severn Sport visit the building site of Gloucester City’s Meadow Park stadium and chat to co-chairman Alex Petheram.
It’s been nearly thirteen years since Gloucester City played a game at their Meadow Park home, but the club are on course to make their long-awaited return to the City for next season (which is rumoured to be September).
After being shown the foundations and initial building work for the changing rooms and up onto the pitch, Petheram showed us the two stands which have now had seats installed and suddenly it all feels a bit real.
“It’s nice to actually be here at the ground and with the seats going in and with the pitch formation almost complete, it makes it feel a bit real” said the Gloucester City co-chairman.
Petheram, who has been involved in the construction industry nearly all of his life originally joined the club as a sponsor through his company Soldi, but after meetings with owner Eamonn McGurk, Petheram has seen his involvement with the Tigers grow and the club have benefited off and on the field.
However with this involvement and the eye-catching signings City have made this summer there has been talk of Gloucester City being a money side just throwing cash at everything and Petheram admits he is torn on what to make of the outside criticism.
“I’ve got two thoughts on it really” said Petheram. “I find it flattering and insulting in the same sentence to be honest.
“I find it flattering that people think I have the sort of money to throw at the football club, but I find it insulting from a football club’s point of view that outsiders believe that the only reason players want to come here is to pick up the sort of pay cheque they are.
“I have a mixed view on it really. I find it all a bit strange that people don’t believe that players want to go to a football club that has got an ambition and we aren’t just talking about it anymore, we are delivering on the ambition” added Petheram.
During the re-development of the Meadow Park site Petheram has provided the fans a weekly update to show them just how far the club are coming along with the building work and just how close the Tigers are to coming home and Petheram admits that
“[Providing the updates] is just how I run my own business. I run my own business with a MD’s report every week that goes out to the 156-ish staff and I do that every week and have no issue doing that with the club.
“I started doing it internally last season with players and the management and it was suggested I publish it out to everyone because it’s so open and honest and that is what we have done. We have put it on the website and I get questions back from fans and I try to pick them up as often as I can.”
Other than providing the updates, Petheram has joined in discussion on the Gloucester City fans’ open forum and there have been posts about him both positive and negative and the City co-chairman admits he takes the criticism personally.
“I hate it [criticism online]” said Petheram. “It affects me personally and I do take it very personally. I am a very black and white person, if I’m angry I shout, if I’m sad I cry and if I’m happy then I’ll laugh and you always know where you stand with me – which is why I have a habit of upsetting folk but I don’t ever do it on purpose.
“The other issue I’ve got is that I move on very quickly – other people don’t let things go as quickly as I do and I always forget that and that is the biggest negative I have.
“I don’t like the personal criticism, I can handle the club being criticised but some of it I find a little bit far-fetched and a little bit odd. At one point it was quite bad, I have three children who are all of the age of iPhones and reading and writing, so when you have your 14 year-old saying ‘why are you spending my inheritance on this lot, they hate you?’ you kind of think ‘well, you have a hell of a point.’
“That is when it gets a little bit much and I don’t think anyone deserves it,” said Petheram.
Our man Ryan Butler gives his thoughts on visiting the Meadow Park site:
I am one of the people who are yet to see Gloucester City play at Meadow Park, in Gloucester even, so I was delighted to get the chance to visit the site.
Like everyone else I have seen the photos and videos of the progress being made but it is genuinely one you need to see to believe!
Speaking to Alex I can see the ambition of the club has been thought about in every little detail of the ground and Gloucester City fans are right to be excited about coming home!
You can listen to the full interview with Gloucester City co-chairman Alex Petheram on Severn Sport on Dean Radio this Saturday morning and it will be available to listen again to shortly after that.
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