PLYMOUTH Argyle Football Club today released details of the additional costs of the new Grandstand changes proposed by the Argyle Fans Trust Working Group.Akkeron’s professional team has estimated the incremental costs of the changes would be £2.62m or £1,200 per additional seat, as opposed to the £0.8m and £364 per seat suggested by the Working Group.
A response to the Working Group’s proposals has been provided to the Plymouth Argyle Supporters Board and is being published on their website.
Argyle owner and chairman James Brent said: “I thank the AFT Working Group again for their proposal.
“As a group of volunteers who, to my knowledge, have no experience of building similar structures, they have worked hard to find a way of adding more seats at a relatively low cost.
“However, rightly, in my view, sporting stadia are subject to detailed regulations to ensure both the safety of our fans (e.g. in relation to escape routes) and their comfort (e.g. kiosks and toilet facilities). To meet these requirements, the space required for, and the cost of, the additional seats is materially greater than the AFT Working Group have assumed.
“The challenges we face today are that we have a dilapidated grandstand; we are losing money; and, last season, we finished fourth from the bottom of the Football League.
“We hope that John Sheridan’s appointment as manager and the team he is building will address the last point but, on its own, this is not sustainable. The new grandstand needs to help address these challenges in a sustainable manner – and, in our view, it will, providing high-quality hospitality for our fans and additional revenue to take us back up the leagues.
“Based on current averages, 60% of Home Park’s proposed capacity each match is empty and only 40% occupied. We really do not need additional seats now, or in the short-term. We need to improve our performances and attract more supporters to attend matches in better-quality facilities. We need to generate additional income to do this.
“We are all hoping that, in the medium-term, we will compete again at the top of the Championship and that the most popular games when we are winning will be a sell-out: having Home Park full again at the top of the Championship is a quality problem.
“We can increase the capacity to more than 20,000 simply, quickly and economically. Engineers at BDP – one of the UK’s largest architectural practices, along with other members of the consultant team – have investigated, confirmed and costed this, and the AFT WG are encouraged to properly consider how this would be achieved (much of the work is pre-fabricated offsite and one lane to/from the car-park is closed out of season to assemble). Building seats that we can fill regularly makes good economic sense for the club; building seats that remain empty makes no sense at all.
“We will, however, review the possibility of adding around 200 seats – increasing the grandstand capacity to around 5,000 and the initial stadium capacity to the region of 18,000 – by reducing the depth to current proposed levels of seating.
“It is also conceivable that Argyle will at some point get promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its 126-year history and we may then have regular demand that exceeds 20,000.
“Does this scenario worry me? No! It is a really high-quality problem that we all dream of. We would need to look at more radical solutions but, armed with £60-70m a year of TV money and demand for seats that was regularly greater than our capacity, these radical solutions become credible solutions.
“The proposed £10m new grandstand does show ambition for our club, but deliverable ambition.
“Dreaming about the Premier League and crowds in excess of what we have achieved in modern history is good, but we must not let the dreams get in the way of dealing effectively and sustainably with current challenges so that we have some chance of the dreams becoming a reality.
“The Board and I wish all Greens a good summer break and we look forward to a successful season next year.”