Posh now among top 44 football clubs in England and Wales
(MAY 5, 2021 CALGARY, CANADA) Peterborough United Football Club (The POSH) landed promotion to the Championship tier of the English Football League (EFL) on Saturday, May 1 after an injury-time penalty earned them a 3-3 draw with promotion rivals Lincoln City and put them over the top.
Peterborough is 100 km north by train of London in the UK.
There is a strong Canadian tie to this success story given the club is co-owned by Calgary-based R. Stewart Thompson and Kelowna-based Dr. Jason Neale along with their partner Darragh MacAnthony.
The top two teams in League 1 earn automatic promotion to the Championship with a third team also going up as a result of a playoff between clubs finishing 3 – 6. POSH are guaranteed to finish second behind Hull City with one match remaining.
“The reality is fast setting in,” says Thompson. “We had three objectives top of mind when we joined Darragh at POSH in March 2018; gain sustainable promotion to the Championship, bring the Weston Homes Stadium back under club control, and develop our academy in a meaningful way. Today I’m proud to say we’ve made great progress on all three fronts.”
The Championship is the top tier in the EFL and second in the UK only to the 20-team Premiership. The top three teams in the Championship are promoted to the Premiership at the end of each season but the immediate goal for POSH will be to create a sustainable foundation from which to grow at the much more challenging Championship level.
“We’re delighted that all the hard work from the players and staff has paid off,” says Dr. Neale. “It’s been a particularly challenging season for everyone, especially playing behind closed doors due to the pandemic. The consistency and resilience demonstrated by everyone at the club has been fantastic and our supporters have been brilliant.”
POSH are managed by Darren Ferguson, son of the legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Jonson Clarke-Harris, who drilled home the decisive penalty in added time Saturday, was named the League 1 player of the year and captured the golden boot as the division’s top scorer. Two of Clark-Harris’s teammates were also named to the League 1 team of the year; team captain and central defender Mark Beevers and right winger Joe Ward.
“I’ve lived through several promotion highs and relegation lows in my 14 years as POSH owner and chairman,” says MacAnthony. “Stewart and Jason have brought a renewed business focus to help grow the club these past three years. It’s a pleasure to have them as partners and a joy to share this promotion with them and everyone involved with the club.”
Thompson and Dr. Neale are well-known entrepreneurs in Canada and internationally. The two co-founded and are managing partners of Old Kent Road Financial, a debt and venture finance company approaching $150MM AUM. Thompson also runs the largest angel investment network in Western Canada, Valhalla Angels, under the umbrella of his Valhalla Private Capital enterprise. Valhalla has several venture funds in Canada and internationally. Dr. Neale, a business turn-around specialist, also owns Kelowna-based Bluestar Coachlines, the largest coach operator in interior BC.
Darragh MacAnthony is an author and tech investor with a global focus on real estate. Originally from Ireland, he and his family now call Florida home.
The two Canadian co-owners, both life-long and passionate football supporters, are using their extensive business and entrepreneurial skills in tandem with MacAnthony to help grow the club. After more than a decade of trying, POSH recently announced they had succeeded in buying their ground, Weston Homes Stadium, back from the City of Peterborough. The club has also seen academy graduates play a critical role in their promotion push with 25 per cent of the first team squad being homegrown players. With significant focus and investment, the POSH Academy is close to achieving Tier 2 status (an elite development environment for U9 – U21 recruited from the local region) and the U18 team has captured back-to-back titles.
The three owners are also advancing plans to build a new multi-purpose arena in central Peterborough that will house a tech accelerator, conference facilities, and serve as a venue for A-list concerts and sporting events as well as being the new home for the POSH.
Photo credit Joe Dent Peterborough United FC team (Official photographer)
MEDIA / REQUESTS FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THE CO-OWNERS:
Jeff Mann, Jeff Mann Communications Strategies