We are delighted to announce that we have received approval from our local Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for fans to return to Home Park from Saturday’s Sky Bet League One fixture against Ipswich Town.
In order to receive approval for fans’ return on a permanent basis, the club is required to undertake a test event, at 50% of our socially-distanced capacity, which currently stands at 3,616 – as a result, Saturday’s temporary capacity will be 1,808.
The socially-distanced capacity of Home Park takes into account a number of key areas, including usable seats, holding capacity, access flow, egress flow, and concourse socially-distanced capacity.
The make-up of supporters’ social bubbles – information that was provided to us earlier this year – determines the number of usable seats, under Tier Two guidelines.
Three areas of the stadium, blocks 18-23 in Barn Park End, 6,7,8 in the Lyndhurst Road Stand, and the upper tier of the Mayflower Grandstand, will not be accessible to supporters.
In the case of the Mayflower Grandstand, the upper tier concourse is currently closed to support socially-distanced flow in and out of the stadium, while the Barn Park End is currently designated as a red zone, due to its temporary use as the away team’s changing facilities. Blocks 6-8 in the Lyndhurst Road Stand will also serve as a dead zone, also serving as a base for medical staff, to ensure that flow in and out of the stadium is controlled securely.
As outlined at the very beginning of this process, tickets are being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those who purchased their season-tickets first.
This does include a small number of Club Argyle season-ticket holders, who held their season-ticket prior to 20/21 sales going live, as well as a very small number of sponsorship obligations. It is worth stating that the vast majority of supporters invited to attend on Saturday will be ‘regular’ season-ticket holders, who renewed in July. Staff and directors are not included in this 1,808 calculation.
The test event will be assessed by members of the SGSA on Saturday, as well as the local authority. Should the test event be successful, we will be granted approval to raise the capacity to the government-sanctioned figure of 2,000 for fixtures thereafter – therefore it is imperative that supporters abide by the code of conduct and safety measures.
Of course, we understand that the socially-distanced capacity of 3,616 may cause concern, with our season-ticket membership exceeding that figure, but this is only a temporary position.
The team is already in the process of planning for the next stage of fans’ return, including a larger capacity, when restrictions are lifted. Prior to caps being applied to numbers, the club had successfully mapped almost 5,000 supporters to the stadium, based on COVID-secure guidelines. Please rest assured that the 3,616 capacity only stands with match-day operations as they currently exist, and will be altered in due course.
Ticket Office staff have identified the list of season-ticket holders who will be invited to Saturday’s fixture, and are currently finalising the seating plan, based on social bubbles. Once this is complete, supporters who have been selected will receive an email within the next 24 hours. The email will include a copy of the Fans’ Return guide, the PAFC Code of Conduct, details of supporters’ temporary seat, and a specified arrival time. We will attempt to contact those without a registered email address by telephone.
Please note that it is crucial that supporters arrive at Home Park for the specified arrival time, which is detailed in the email, and attendees must note the turnstile allocated for entry. Access will not be provided to supporters who have missed their arrival time, or try to gain access through an incorrect turnstile.
We hope to have the first batch of season cards in the mail on Wednesday evening, which should give enough time for supporters to receive them ahead of Saturday’s game. Any cards that miss the Wednesday evening deadline will be hand delivered by a band of club staff and volunteers, ensuring that all designated supporters are able to attend on Saturday.
Those who specified collection when they placed their season card order will be able to do so from midday on Friday, 4 December, and from 9am on the morning of the game.
If you have received an email, but have not received your season card by the morning of the game, please report to the Home Park Ticket Office on match-day, and you will be awarded temporary means of access for Saturday’s fixture.
Please note that season-ticket holders who are not in the initial 1,808 will not receive their season cards at this time.
Whilst we are delighted to be able to welcome a proportion of our loyal season-ticket holders back to Home Park on Saturday, we are acutely aware of the disappointment felt by those who will only be able to join us through iFollow.
The club continues to work with the EFL and other stakeholders to push for the capacity ceiling to lifted, and to be based against stadium capacity, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
The club is committed to honouring the terms outlined in the original sale of season-tickets, and therefore will continue to operate under a first-come, first-served approach for return to the stadium.
However, we do not take supporters’ commitment to the club lightly, and we continue to explore potential solutions for those who are not yet able to return to Home Park and will update in due course.
The club will provide further information on access to Home Park in the build-up to Saturday’s fixture. Please keep an eye on pafc.co.uk and our social media channels for more information.