Steve Lansdown began coming to Bristol City as a fan in the 1980s with his son Jon, now club chairman, in the Junior Reds section in the former Dolman Stand.
It could have been so much different, as Lansdown senior was originally a Bristol Rovers fan. But he became a director of City, was appointed chairman in 2002 and is now owner of Bristol Sport encompassing City, Bristol Bears rugby team and Bristol Flyers basketball.
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“I got involved in football, like most people do, because they believe you can make a difference,” said Lansdown in an interview marking the 125th anniversary of Bristol City.
“You want it to be successful for the area, for the supporters and for yourself really because, let’s face it, we’ve all got egos and want to be successful.”
Lansdown said that it was helping save Bristol Rugby from “basically going bust” and putting the rugby and football clubs together when he really saw the potential of what is now Bristol Sport.
“It all started to fall into place really because I thought if we can get people coming to the games we can get the best infrastructure for the clubs, and if the city can support sport then sport can support the city.”
Lansdown says that his project project so far has been the redevelopment of Ashton Gate Stadium, “that has surpassed my expectations”.
Lansdown added: “I want Bristol City to play in the best possible surroundings and at the highest possible level. We have created the best possible surroundings to play in, we are now going to create the best possible surroundings to train in, and then we can play at the very highest level. The dream is obviously to play in the Premier League.”
Plans are afoot for a new arena to house the Bristol Flyers basketball team among a range of other uses, with the next stages of the Ashton Gate development to have a larger shop and also a museum.
“The thing that disappoints me is that we haven’t got more history. And of course we’re in the business of creating history for the future.”
“Bristol is a great city but it does frustrate you at times,” Lansdown said.
“But at the end of the day, when it all gets together, and everybody gets behind it, it goes places, and that’s what hopefully sport can do for Bristol.”
City’s 125-year anniversary season will be marked with a day of celebration on Saturday as the Robins host Fulham in the Championship, in a game broadcast live on Sky Sports.
The City players will wear a limited edition commemorative shirt and the game will also feature a special souvenir programme.
Main photo: Bristol City