Keep Scunthorpe Standing
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.