Explanation requested by ATT
At the ‘All Together Town’ Voices Panel meeting at PPG Canalside on Thursday 30 January 2014, Huddersfield Town was asked to provide a full explanation on the issues surrounding home fans going in the Chadwick Lawrence Stand, aka the South Stand.
Since its construction in December 1994 and for the last 19 years, visiting away fans have sat in the Chadwick Lawrence Stand.
If the Chadwick Lawrence Stand was an area for home fans, it would necessitate a relocation of away fans. As such, it would change the dynamics of the Stadium and the Club would have to put in a proposal to the Stadium’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) to do so. The SAG (click HERE
for more info) would then consider the proposal.
If the SAG agrees, the Safety Certificate will be changed.
The key issues arising which would need to be considered in the proposals are as follows:
Requirements for away fans
- The minimum ticket allocation that Huddersfield Town has to offer away clubs in line with Football League regulation 34.2.1 is 2,000 or 10% of the capacity; whichever figure is lower.
- The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975, item 3.26, states that away fans must have access to their own segregated set of toilet and concourse facilities.
- The John Smith’s Stadium safety certificate stipulates that away fans enter and leave the site via the south end of the ground
Options for away fans:
SPLITTING THE CHADWICK LAWRENCE STAND
One option is for home and away fans to share this stand. Previously, the Chadwick Lawrence Stand has been split between home and away fans on a match by match basis (e.g. vs. Leyton Orient on 24 September 2011).
Segregation gates exist in the concourse area behind the Chadwick Lawrence Stand giving segregated concourse and toilet facilities, but using these reduces the capacity for away fans to circa 1,049 seats. The aforementioned match by match trials were run when the away club requested a number of tickets that was below this figure.
This reduced capacity contravenes Football League regulation 34.2.1 and is NOT a permanent option for away fans. It could be viable game by game, but Season Cards in that stand given the in/out nature would be very problematic. Trials of irregular usage of the Chadwick Lawrence Stand were undertaken in League 1; the results were not so overwhelming as to merit a case by case usage.
Since Huddersfield Town was promoted to the Championship, the following clubs have brought fewer than 1,049 fans to the John Smith’s Stadium:
2012/13 – 8 games from 23
Saturday 29 September 2012 – Watford – 668 supporters
Saturday 3 November 2012 – Bristol City – 406 supporters
Saturday 17 November 2012 – Brighton & Hove Albion – 712 supporters
Wednesday 30 January 2013 – Crystal Palace – 538 supporters
Saturday 23 February 2013 – Ipswich Town – 976 supporters
Saturday 9 March 2013 – Charlton Athletic – 470 supporters
Saturday 30 March 2013 – Hull City – 428 supporters
Saturday 20 April 2013 – Millwall – 232 supporters
2013/14 – 8 games from 18
Saturday 24 August 2013 – AFC Bournemouth – 335 supporters
Tuesday 17 September 2013 – Charlton Athletic – 278 supporters
Friday 27 September 2013 – Blackpool – 860 supporters
Saturday 5 October 2013 – Watford – 951 supporters
Saturday 9 November 2013 – Birmingham City – 840 supporters
Saturday 14 December 2013 – Reading – 495 supporters
Sunday 29 December 2013 – Yeovil Town – 186 supporters
Saturday 11 January 2014 – Millwall – 317 supporters
DIRECT GOLF UK STAND
As things stand, no toilet and concourse facilities exist in this stand that could be segregated as per The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975, item 3.26; there is access from the Upper Tier seating to the Lower Tier and vice versa, which would contravene The Safety at Sports Grounds Act 1975, item 3.26 in terms of housing away fans. In the current setup, this stand is NOT an option for away fans.
On 21 October 1998, Sunderland FC was given dispensation to bring additional away fans to sit in the Direct Golf UK Stand. In practise this did not work and was not considered for a repeat.
In theory this stand could be modified to comply with this regulation, but this would require rebuilding work. This would need permission from Kirklees Stadium Development Limited (KSDL) and money to fund it.
FANTASTIC MEDIA STAND
The John Smith’s Stadium was designed to have away fans in the Chadwick Lawrence Stand, which is why that stand has a purpose-built coach park behind it – to allow for the direct and safe arrival and departure of travelling fans. This minimises interaction and crossover with home fans going in different directions.
As things stand, space for a coach park does not exist behind the Fantastic Media Stand – the weight limit on the bridge over to the Town Avenue car park does not permit a coach to travel over it – so it is NOT an option currently.
In theory this could again be changed, but this would require coach parking at the North End. This would need planning permission, permission from the other partners on site, the SAG and then KSDL, as well as cash to fund it.
It would also have major redesign implications for the HDOne project, or if not a new plan to move and flow away fans from existing coach parks to the North end crossing with home fans would need to be agreed with the SAG.
BRITANNIA RESCUE STAND (SOUTH – BLOCKS 7, 8, 9 & 10)
This was the original location for away fans in 1994 for a short period before the Chadwick Lawrence Stand build was completed.
The south end of the Britannia Rescue Stand complies with all three necessities for away fans at the John Smith’s Stadium detailed above regarding capacity, segregation requirement and access.
- Capacity; with away fans in the South end, the Britannia Rescue Stand would house approximately 3,779 home fans and 2,554 away fans, with a 1,000 (one entire block (6)) segregation requested by the SAG. In the 2013/14 campaign, there were 4,562 Huddersfield Town Season Card holders in the Britannia Rescue Stand, meaning that a permanent move for away fans into this stand will mean displacing a large number of home fans; around 3,000 currently sit in the south end of the Britannia Rescue Stand, a large proportion of which have sat in that area since the John Smith’s Stadium was built.
Allocating such a large chunk of the BR would inevitably mean displacing a substantial number of Town fans who have been settled in that area, probably since the stadium was built
- The south end of the stand can be segregated via the blue central concourse doors, giving away fans access to their own set of concourse facilities including toilets.
- The away supporters would still exit via the south end of the ground as they currently do, allowing access to the existing coach park.
Of all the options this is, in theory, the one with the fewest issues, although it would be the most emotive and still very challenging to even try.
Moving away fans permanently to allow home fans to sit in the Chadwick Lawrence Stand presents very significant problems under all the options in terms of logistics, safety and management and could have a significant impact and challenges to the long term development of site.
The explanation above has not taken the full array of financial implications into account, which would of course also have a further bearing on the decision.
Huddersfield Town’s Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens commented:
“It’s important that the Club is honest and transparent, even if the message that needs communicating is not necessarily the one that supporters want to hear.
“It became clear that the ‘All Together Town’ Voices Panel felt it would be beneficial to publish a full explanation of the issues faced in any potential move of home fans to the Chadwick Lawrence Stand. Equally, we want supporters to understand the real challenges that exist in making such a change.
“This explanation was drafted by the Club, sent to KSDL for its comments and input and then circulated to all 23 members of the ‘ATT Voices Panel’ for their feedback. This was done to ensure the explanation was as complete and accurate as possible and inclusive of concerns and questions from supporters.
“Huddersfield Town must prioritise its efforts into areas where it can make the best impact. Encouraging our supporters to move between home areas and changing the ‘family area’ to create a new ‘singing section’ in the Fantastic Media Stand Lower Tier for 2014/15 have proven to be a challenge, but it is something that the Club is putting its full weight behind.”