Darragh MacAnthony: Peterborough United owner turns focus to new season

Darragh MacAnthony and Barry Fry
Darragh MacAnthony (left) took over as owner of Peterborough from Barry Fry in September 2006

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony says he has turned his focus to getting the club promoted next season.

MacAnthony was a critic of the decision to end the League One season and decide it by points per game - meaning Posh just missed out on the play-offs.

He is planning for next season to start by late September, with the first games behind closed doors due to Covid-19.

"We've got to get out of this league, we've got to get into that Championship," said MacAnthony.

The United States-based businessman says he and his team at Peterborough have put four different plans in place for next season depending on when matches start and when supporters are allowed back into stadiums.

No decision has yet been made on a start date for next season.

"We're working off model two, which is where we start in September," he told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

"There'll probably be a couple of games without fans and then you'll have a limited capacity building up to Christmas onwards where you'll probably get back up to full capacity."

The English Football League is currently working with the government with regard to getting fans back into grounds as soon as possible, but only when it is safe to do so.

'Millions' put in to Peterborough

Peterborough are likely to have to sell 26-goal top-scorer Ivan Toney, with MacAnthony saying the club already has a target in mind to replace the 24-year-old.

And while there might be more chances for young players, MacAnthony says he and his fellow directors will ensure the club will be solvent in the next few months, even if games are played behind closed doors.

"The finances will be stable based on myself and my partners putting money into the club. We're talking millions, and if it's without fans then it's that bit more," he said.

"But we're owners of a football club, its our responsibility. As much as we'd love a bailout like everyone else, maybe we're going to have to work on pay deals with some players for a year until we all get over coronavirus.

"Maybe we're going to have to get some sympathy from some suppliers and wherever else it's needed, and everyone at the football club's on board with that.

"There's going to be staff cuts, there's going to be wage cuts. I hate to use the phrase 'the new normal' but for football in the next 24 months that's probably the normal.

"We feel if we can execute the plan we've got in place, and we're all going to have to make sacrifices, we're going to be in really good shape to make a proper title run when football returns in September."

EFL should 'lead from the front'

The EFL is a member organisation, meaning each club has a vote on major decisions, such as curtailing the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But, after being unhappy with how the EFL handled the end of the season as Posh slipped out of the play-off places and finished seventh, MacAnthony feels the league must take a firmer lead on future steps to help the lower leagues return, rather than constantly consulting clubs.

However, it would be up to the clubs, who were allowed to submit and vote on each others' proposals on the plans to end the season, to decide to give the EFL such additional power.

"The EFL have to stop all this vote nonsense and stop all this nonsense talk of we're not playing again until there are fans in stadiums," said MacAnthony.

"We have a half-a-billion pound TV deal, you've got to tell our members the date we start again and you've got to tell them to show up to the party - and tell them the ramifications if they don't show up.

"We have to talk about wage controls, we have to talk about the bailout.

"We're asking for £250m to help clubs through July, August and September. That deal should already be done and we should know more if the deal has been done or if there are conversations.

"I implore and put pressure on [EFL chairman] Rick Parry and the EFL to get their finger out and do those deals.

"Stop leaving it to a democratic situation where everyone's arguing amongst themselves. Lead from the front - you're the EFL for goodness sake, you're meant to be one of the biggest football leagues in the world.

"Enough of the circus, get to work and get it done."

Parry said in March that clubs should look to "reset" their business models in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, while the EFL released a £50m short-term relief fund to help clubs with cash-flow issues.

It is understood that there have been discussions between the EFL and the government with regard to finding the resources to help clubs financially before fans are allowed back into grounds.