South Stand; What's One Of Those?
After an interview with the official website, Chairman Karl Oyston has announced that building work is to commence on the South Stand soon - but didn`t, I hasten to add, say when it exactly was to start.
The new South Stand should be ready in time for the 2008/09 season, when hopefully The Seasiders will still be playing in The Championship.
The key quote from Oyston was: 'The programme will be around 36 weeks to construct the South Stand from start to finish and it maybe that we can bring significant elements of the seating ahead of the final completion but that's something I will look into as well as one of the early parts of this process and of course there's no issues going to be created because we'll maintain the current capacity we've got during the construction period because obviously the only ones that are going to be affected by construction are those that are already demolished and ready for action.'
Fantastic news - I`m sure you`ll agree - that "The Jimmy Armfield Stand" will now be built, ready for the 2008 season; if Mr Oyston this time manages to keep to timescales that in the past have become a burden. It was only last September that he exclaimed that a new South-West stand was to be erected, but that never materialised - as in hindsight it`s obvious that the club were waiting for the hotel to be properly up and running - something at the time didn`t occur to many fans who were left disgruntled as to why the stand hadn`t been started.
Karl goes on the say 'As a club, clearly we'd like to get towards the maximum capacity we can achieve on this site as soon as we possibly can but at the same time the average attendance was just under 7,000. While we do envisage a far greater average attendance this season and some particularly well attended fixtures, I think again we take a very sensible view of how much finance and effort we have put into the capacity because there's nothing worse than seeing a half empty stadium'.
With this being the Seasiders' first season back in the 2nd tier of English football for 29 years, fans from far and wide have been coming out of the woodwork to buy season tickets to ensure they are able to watch the 'Pool face off against such teams as their local rivals Preston North End and Burnley and, amongst others, Charlton, Watford and Sheffield United following their relegation from the Premiership last year. Oyston has quashed any hopes of fans that were praying for extra seats somewhere in the ground to accommodate them for the "big games" this season. When asked if extra seats will be provided for these fans, Oyston's reply was;
"Probably not for home fans that's for certain, there still remains this issue with home fans. Plenty of home fans on the odd match may struggle to get a seat so I think those that have chosen to purchase a season ticket this season more than any have been particularly sensible and if they want to guarantee that they'll get a seat then that's the option that is still probably available."
With this news that the South stand is set to be completed in time for the 2008/2009 season - who knows, we could even be in the Premiership by then (OK, I'll stop now...) - the capacity will be increased to approximately 16,000 seats - which surely caters to 'Pool fan's needs.
There was no mention of letting office space.
Interestingly, what the timing of the announcement does is signify the influence Valeri Belokon is having on the club, because this was all said after the series of meetings in Latvia - and despite Belokon`s non-interest in the property side (allegedly) it has taken a meeting with him to get the South Stand up and moving. Maybe this signifies that he`s here to stay…?