The Babcock Devonport End

Babcock Devonport End Safety Update

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As we approach ten crucial league fixtures in our promotion campaign, with a trip to Wembley Stadium in-between, the club is once again writing to the Green Army to request your support and co-operation with safety measures at Home Park.

For the entirety of the 22/23 campaign, and some of last season too, we have been managing a persistent standing and overcrowding issue in certain blocks of the Babcock Devonport End.

There is an ongoing issue with supporters whose tickets are in the Babcock Devonport End congregating in blocks two and three of the stand, opting to stand together in a manner that is not only unsafe for them, but also for others in the vicinity.

The club has communicated with the supporters affected and involved in this overcrowding issue consistently throughout the season, hoping to find a resolution.

The list of measures taken by the club includes: sending letters advising supporters of the issue and requesting compliance with ground regulations; sending targeted SMS messages to supporters whose tickets are located in the problem areas; following up with supporters who are found to have been hostile to stewards; implementing ticket checks pre-match and at half-time in blocks two and three; and increasing our public awareness messaging across our social media and digital channels.

These communications have been respectful and considerate, with the safety and enjoyment of our incredible fanbase uppermost in our minds. However, these measures have not worked as well as we would have liked, and there is increasing pressure for the club to eradicate such issues. This situation coincides with a scheduled Safety Advisory Group (SAG) inspection at Home Park for this weekend’s fixture.

We take no pleasure from producing these communications, and the last thing we want to do is lecture supporters who pay their hard-earned money to support the team. However, the consequences for Argyle – your club and ours – could be severe, and include the potential for a reduction of our capacity for the run-in. This would be devastating given the importance of the next six weeks to all of us, and the size of crowd we are currently attracting at Home Park.

We are not asking for much. We are asking you to, very simply, remain in the seat that you have bought, and comply with requests from stadium officials. Our stewards have operated with a common sense approach throughout the season, with everyone at Argyle intent on ensuring that the atmosphere that has helped propel the team to incredible highs is not impacted. We will continue with that commitment, but we need those who continue to ignore ground regulations – paying little regard to others’ safety - to return the favour for the good of Argyle.

Our stewards have a thankless task. While ticket checks are designed to serve as a deterrent, stewards have been unable to wade into groups of overcrowded supporters due to the risk to safety of escalation. This reality is coupled with a noted increase in aggression from groups of supporters in overcrowded blocks. While far from the ideal solution, when such instances occur, the stewards’ best remaining option for safety of everyone in the area is to monitor from a distance.

The club is sympathetic to supporters who wish to stand, and we are wholly supportive of safe standing in stadia. In the medium term, we hope to install rail seating or safe standing at Home Park, but in the interim we are bound by our safety certificate, and the fact that Home Park is an all-seater stadium in its current configuration.

This is not just a matter of bureaucracy. Argyle strives to be an inclusive club, and persistent standing in other areas of the stadium, particularly on ground level behind advertising hoardings, ruins the match-day experience for wheelchair users.

For Saturday’s visit of Forest Green Rovers, supporters seated in blocks two, three and four of the Babcock Devonport End are to expect enhanced ticketing checks, as well as an increased stewarding presence in this area. Please allow for extra time to reach your seat as these checks may slow entry to the stadium.

Once again, the club has no desire to implement such stringent measures, and we understand the impact it can have on enjoyment, as well as additional costs incurred by the club. We apologise to the vast majority of supporters who are affected by the behaviour of a minority, and reiterate that these measures have been reluctantly applied due to repeated non-compliance.

We welcome an open dialogue with supporters on this matter, and invite you to email if you would like to discuss it further with club staff.

In the meantime, we request that all supporters consider the impact of their decisions.

Thank you.

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