Keep Scunthorpe Standing

Posted by on Nov 29, 2010 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Winning promotion to the Championship most certainly has to go down as a good thing, but for some clubs it may eventually pose one specific problem. That’s because teams whose grounds include terraced areas must, after their third season in the top two tiers, convert their grounds into all-seating venues.

23 of the Championship’s current crop have no such worries given that they already occupy all-seater stadiums. Characterless bowls though they may be, the likes of Doncaster, Swansea and Leicester have all managed to fund moves to the type of home that ticks all the boxes for the game’s authorities. Yet Scunthorpe’s 9,088 capacity Glanford Park, with its purpose-built North Stand (aka Donny Road) terrace, fails to satisfy the rules. Despite possessing an impeccable safety record, the 22 year-old end stand looks set to close as a terrace at the close of this season if the Iron survive in this, their third Championship term in four years.

If converted into a seated area, the ground’s capacity would fall by a thousand, potentially affecting the club’s already meagre revenues when a Leeds or a Hull travel to Lincolnshire, or when the Iron come up against a Premiership outfit in the Cup, as they did against Manchester United earlier this season. To offset the likely downturn, plans are in place to maintain the current capacity by extending the same stand backwards. Requiring, however, a seven-figure investment, such a turn of events would no doubt hamper the club’s already-strained ability to compete on the pitch.

It’s not the first time that a club has had to choose from such a tricky set of alternatives in order to fall into line. While Cardiff were able to keep their Popular Bank open for six Championship seasons due the impending arrival of their new stadium, another side from the West weren’t able to manipulate the rules so successfully. After three successive seasons in the second tier, Plymouth were forced to bolt temporary seats to their Mayflower Terrace, the sole surviving standing area in the ground. Not only did the view worsen due to the low depth of a stand that was never designed for seating, but supporters’ enjoyment of countless games has since been compromised by having to sit hunched over in an attempt to keep at least one body part dry when the rain starts to pour.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but the closure of the Maylower as a terrace at Home Park also came about at the same time as the Pilgrims’ severe dip in home form. A ground that had once been a “fortress” quickly became the last place that Argyle wanted to play as the stadium’s edge was noticeably blunted after their terraced side, where supporters could get close to the pitch and would congregate around the players’ tunnel when an away team needed a good talking to, was virtually muted in one fell swoop. The same could certainly be said for Scunthorpe, who always appear to raise their game when their kicking towards the Donny Road terrace where most of the noise generated by home supporters emanates from.

Plymouth’s Mayflower Terrace has sadly now closed following the club’s relegation to League 1. At a rumoured £100k per season, the cost associated with renting the temporary seats was viewed as excessively high given dwindling attendances, and the Pilgrims now play in front of what is effectively three and a half stands. Scunthorpe will hope that they can resolve the situation more successfully, and in the short-term fans have joined forces with the Football Supporters’ Federation to launch a campaign to Keep Scunthorpe Standing. A petition is open, and an active Facebook group is also available to join. Iron supporters will hope that these efforts go viral and that they, rather than relegation to League 1, keep their Donny Road terrace alive.

Lloyd
is co-editor of The Two Unfortunates. He’s 30, supports Plymouth Argyle and takes a particular interest in the fortunes of those Football League clubs west of Bristol.

4 Comments

  1. Stanley
    November 29, 2010

    I have mixed feelings on the FC United phenomenon, but their plans for a new stadium are an indication of the popularity of standing areas among fans. If managed correctly, these can provide a safe and relatively inexpensive perch from which to watch live football. And therein lies the problem. A coloured bucket seat can be rented out at a higher price than a concrete step, and very few Championship or Global Hyper League clubs would back the campaign if it prompted a reduction in income. However, dare I suggest that, for a Government in danger of being booed off the pitch, an amendment to the Football Spectators Act would be an open goal?

    Reply
  2. Chris P
    November 29, 2010

    Regarding Plymouth, surely now they're in League 1 they can re-open the Mayflower as a standing terrace since the seats were only temporary? They don't look like getting promoted any time soon, so surely this would be a good and cheap way to boost revenue?

    Reply
  3. Lloyd
    November 29, 2010

    Fair point, Chris. The problem is that the board had to strip the terrace right down in order to make space for the temporary seating. When that was removed over the summer, the whole stand was basically bare and money would have been needed to get the stand up to scratch for terracing.

    That was seen as a backward step for the board, who have their mind on the World Cup bid of course. Their view was that attendances would probably not exceed the reduced capacity, so there would be no point in spending money on making the necessary changes, and stewarding the stand, etc.

    Cynics might also suggest that the unpopular board didn't want unhappy supporters staring up at them in anger, hurling all sorts of abuse, either.

    Reply
  4. Bill Turianski
    November 30, 2010

    This was a great article, Lloyd.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

MENU