Morecambe chairman: ‘There was no future at Christie Park’

Morecambe chairman Peter McGuigan
Morecambe chairman Peter McGuigan

It has taken time for Morecambe fans to warm to their new £12m stadium.

Some supporters dislike their new home, blaming it for a recent dip in crowd numbers, and long for the club’s old ground at Christie Park.

Work progessing on the Hurley Flyer pub at the Globe Arena.

Work progessing on the Hurley Flyer pub at the Globe Arena.

But club chairman Peter McGuigan’s view on Morecambe’s move to the Globe Arena is crystal clear.

He says the Shrimps simply had “no future” at Christie Park and he would have stepped down as chairman had the move in 2010 not been rubber-stamped.

As it is, the former Umbro boss insists his 16 years at the club aren’t coming to end just yet, contrary to rumours on the terraces.

He said: “I think whenever you join a business or a football club, you have dream, ambition, and a look into the future.

“Had we stayed at Christie Park I wouldn’t have been with the club anymore. I would have gone, because there was no future in my opinion.

“There’s rumours about the club being for sale or me leaving. I’m spending more time here than I ever have.

“It somebody comes and offers you £20m for this would you take it? Yes of course you would.

“If they offered you £20 would you take it? No you wouldn’t.

“As far I’m concerned I’m here until that £20m offer comes in and I’m committed to working here to realise a dream I have.

“I’ve been here 16 years now but it would be good to do 20 as chairman and leave with something Morecambe can be proud of.

“We have this vision of where I see Morecambe Football Club and I will do all I can in my power to make sure we get there.

“That’s probably three years down the line and then you take stock.

“As of today I’m not walking away.”

Peter has long spoken of his desire for the Shrimps to be self-sufficient.

He expects that to become a reality next year.

“The facility has to be something that is here for the supporters of Morecambe Football Club for years to come.

“It has to be financially viable and sustainable. You can’t go on losing £500,000 or £600,000 a year.

“You have a facility here than can generate revenue in the Wright & Lord suite and the bars downstairs. At least we have that, a lot of clubs don’t have that.

“And we own our own ground. There’s a lot of clubs in the Football League who don’t own their own ground and it’s a huge difficulty.”

Peter says his “vision” is a fully-developed Christie Way complex.

A new Marston’s Hurley Flyer pub is scheduled to open at the gateway to the stadium at the end of April and talks are ongoing to sell other land around the pub.

Speaking from the Globe Arena boardroom, he points out of the window to outline his other plans. He said: “I think we’d look to fill in the North Terrace to replicate the community block with offices at the other end.

“And then you’d have an office block in the middle of that overlooking the pitch, which will be used every day with car parking round the side.

“It would be enclosed and I think it would create a much better atmosphere and the club would be getting income from the rent of the offices.

“The offices will be higher, about 10ft, than the community block so it will be as imposing as the main stand but will look fantastic.”

As for the Westgate entrance to the stadium, McGuigan dreams of a day when people have something to eat or visit one of the other outlets on the land, then will then make their way into the ground, boosting crowds.

He said: “When it’s complete on both sides it will make people realise there is a Globe Arena and Morecambe Football Club play there.

“I don’t think the pub will be competition and will work in our favour. We’re only open 23 games in a season and I think the Hurley Flyer is open seven days a week and is after the family trade.

“When we complete the development, whenever that is, it will be a fantastic area of Morecambe where people can come down and have a drink and see the Globe Arena and start coming to watch us.

“Before the start of the development it was just two mounds of earth and looked awful. It didn’t look inviting at all.

“But once everything is up it’s really going to be the focal point of this part of Morecambe.

“If we continue where we are now you’d like to think we’ll get above 2,000 average attendance again.”

Offers are on the table, including from unnamed fast food companies, for the “mounds of earth” but the club won’t be rushing into any decisions.

McGuigan said: “We’ve got to be careful we don’t just pick it up and run with that.

“We want something that is complementary to the whole of the site.

“Within the next few months we’ll be making decisions about where we want to go.

“There’s nothing worse than selling something and it going up and looking horrible. We want people to come along the front and say ‘wow’”.

“That was the strategy when we left Christie Park, you’ve got to have that vision of how will it all look in five years time.

“I think we’ve done a brilliant job in getting to where we are.

“There are a few supporters who want to go back to Christie Park, which is disappointing, but I think what we have here as a League 2 standard is exceptional.”