South Stand could open for Newcastle visit

BLACKPOOL FC are aiming to open the Jimmy Armfield Stand to spectators on September 16, even though the construction will not be finished by then.

The plan is to have at least 1,000 of the 3,500 seats in the south/south west stand open for the visit of Newcastle United on September 16, taking Bloomfield Road's capacity beyond 10,000.

The Seasiders are in negotiations with Blackpool Council about opening at least part of the stand before the work is complete, though chairman Karl Oyston acknowledged the plan could be scuppered by safety concerns because toilet and refreshment facilities will not all be in place by then.

WATCH a video from inside Bloomfield Road as the South Stand takes shape.

The chairman has also revealed plans for season ticket holders in the North Stand to move to the new one, freeing up space for away fans to sit under cover in the North.

Oyston said: "We have a third stand well under way and it went beyond the south-west corner on Monday.

"It will be completed as soon as possible and we hope to have seating online ahead of completion of the stand.

"We have talked with the local council and it could be (open) as early as mid-September.

"The whole of the seating deck could be completely finished and able to be occupied by then.

"Whether we are able to fill it is something we are in negotiation with the council over because the concourse won't be finished by then – that would only be about a third of the way through.

"So it is unlikely we would be able occupy the whole stand because of welfare issues. A phased introduction of those seats is probably best from a safety point of view."

A Blackpool Council spokeswoman confirmed: "We have been approached by Blackpool FC with a view to opening the new stand for the Newcastle game and that dialogue will continue.

"Increasing the ground capacity by just one would require the club's safety certificate to be reviewed.

"The stand is not yet in a position to be assessed. When it is we will decide how many supporters can be allowed into it."

Oyston added the opening of the new stand could trigger a game of musical chairs, with disgruntled away supporters no longer confined to the exposed temporary stand on the east side.

The chairman continued: "The sooner we can start moving season-ticket holders from the North Stand to the south, the sooner the option opens up to get away fans in the North Stand.

"Ultimately it is the intention to move away support into the North, depending on home demand. We would like to look after our visitors better."

As the club looks forward to a third Championship season, Oyston remains adamant the delay in building the new stand has not cost the club revenue.

He explained: "The demand for tickets has never outweighed the savings we have been able to make by negotiating better prices with the suppliers of products and services to build the stand ... not by a massive amount.

"But the stand will be there to look at within a matter of weeks.

"It will have tangerine seats and will have Mr Armfield's name emblazoned, which will be fantastic."

- SEASON ticket sales are around 400 down on this time last year despite price reductions.