Brunton Park could see an adjustment to its capacity figures for the coming season as new rules and guidelines come in force to ensure safety remains paramount at all sporting venues.
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The current capacity of 18,046 can already change, subject to the allocation of tickets for away supporters, but a new formula could see it set at a different level again, with calculations for terraced areas a particular factor.
“The match day rules are governed by a thing called the Green Guide,” chief executive Nigel Clibbens explained. “These came out after Hillsborough, and in there it requires you to get your capacity signed off by your SAG (safety advisory group).
“In the past there were grandfather rights where, if nothing changed, you simply declared the same capacity every year.”
“That’s changed for this season,” he confirmed. “There is now a new ruling which says you have to evidence your capacity.
“In effect the club has to propose a capacity to the SAG, with the relevant evidence, and this is something that none of us have ever had to do before.
“It’s easy for the seated areas – you just count the seats – but with the terraces you have to calculate your area. The formula they’ve given us says that for every square metre you can have between 4 and 4.7 people.
“This has meant that we’ve had to measure our standing areas, minus anywhere where there isn’t a safety barrier, and taking into account safety areas, access and egress, and then work out how many people we can fit in.
“We’ve basically had to have the ground professionally surveyed, which has been done, so that we can complete this calculation. We’ll now get the final figure in due course.”
And on whether planning has advanced on a new stadium build, or on development of the existing site, he said: “The stadium issue is very much long-term and therefore has to be linked to the long-term progression of the club.
“There’s nothing specific on the table, but we know there’s an open and supportive council ready to talk to us. A lot of spadework has been done in the past to get us to that point.”