Cambridge United majority shareholder Paul Barry’s statement in full

PUBLISHED: 06:04 09 February 2018

Cambridge United

Cambridge United

ILIFFE

Letter sets out ambitions to U’s supporters

Paul Barry has reiterated that Cambridge United will never be “owned” by one person despite becoming the majority shareholder of the club.

The US-based businessman has written a long statement to the U’s supporters after confirming his additional investment into the club that will see him go from the largest shareholder to the majority shareholder.

He addressed many of the major talking points that have cast a shadow over United in recent months, and talked of his long association with the team that he has supported since a boy.

And Barry highlighted his three ambitions for the club – to play at a higher level, to be in a modern stadium at the Abbey and to do more in the community and city.

Barry’s statement read: “It is a great honour to become the majority shareholder of Cambridge United, the club of my home town and the team I have supported all my life.

“I do so recognising that the club can never be ‘owned’ by one person. It will always belong to its fans who are the lifeblood of Cambridge United.

“I am just its custodian, managing it with the board. And I recognise my responsibilities both to the club and also to you all.

“Before I say more about our ambitions for the future and talk about some outstanding issues, first a little bit about me.

“Some of you will know me, others will not. I am not someone who particularly enjoys the spotlight but I appreciate as the new club owner some of you may want to know something about my background and also about my motivations for the club.

“I now live in the US and have done so for 35 years, but was born, brought up and educated in Cambridge. I have followed CUFC since I was a boy.

“My first memory is taking a bus to the Abbey back in the 60’s and, although now overseas, I manage to watch many games online. In addition, I am back several times a year in England for business and family.

“Those who know me, know that Cambridge United has always been my passion. With the growth of my businesses over recent years it has meant I have been in the very fortunate position to be able to give something back to a club that has given me so much over so many years.

“I am continuing that investment that started 18 years ago and has put me as the largest shareholder for the last 10 years.

“Our fans have been pivotal to the club and its history. I would like to pay tribute to all supporters - past and present - the board, staff, sponsors and volunteers for all your fantastic work, support and commitment over recent years.

“It is no exaggeration to say we would not be at this point without the extraordinary team effort to turn the club around.

“It is in the nature of every football fan to be impatient for success. However it is important not to forget just how far we have come over the last decade. At one point we were a game away from relegation from the Conference.

“I remember it well. We are now firmly back in the Football League, a place where we can continue to grow.

“The club is now arguably built on stronger foundations than it has ever been. The challenge now is obviously to build on this platform and to become stronger still whilst still being financially prudent.

“My ambition for the club is very simple. Three things. I want us to play at a higher level. I want us to play in a modern stadium here at the Abbey, which is our home.

“And I want Cambridge United to do even more for the city and the community that we are proud to serve.

“Let me take each of those in turn.

“I am first and foremost a fan. That means I want what every fan wants. I want Cambridge United to win football matches so we can play at a higher level.

“The club has consolidated its position back in the football league. That is no small achievement given the trials and challenges of recent years in the Conference.

“But we all know we need to raise the ambition, but sensibly. We can’t, and never should take mid-table stability for granted; equally we all want Cambridge United to be challenging for promotion- and then playing in League One and maybe even higher. Our aspirations must be higher.

“Second a new stadium has to be at the heart of our future ambitions. We need to be playing in a more modern stadium with more modern facilities.

“We all love the Abbey. It is the club’s home and a stadium full of so many special memories but we need to modernise and improve it if we are to progress in the way we all want.

“A new stadium for Cambridge United has been a long running saga. We all know there have been numerous false dawns over the years so any comment about the future inevitably comes with a heavy dose of scepticism.

“I completely understand that. But I believe there are grounds now for cautious optimism. We are working hard to move plans forward to the next stage.

“Which brings me to the third point - the community.

“Cambridge United is first and foremost a football club. But in recent years it has transformed into a genuine community asset in so many different ways.

“The Trust currently runs 18 different projects and its new strategy Gameplan 2020 will take that to 30 within three years.

“From disability sports and lunch clubs through to active science and mental health in schools, the club is showing the true power of sport to drive social change in what is the most unequal city in the country.

“It is a fantastic achievement. We are ambitious to do much more and a new stadium, as an event venue and a meeting place is the key to unlocking our ability to do that.”

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