Terracing at proposed new stadium

The Dons Trust Board wishes to clarify their position regarding the incorporation of a terrace into the proposed new stadium following an article by the football club CEO, Erik Samuelson, published in the Hartlepool match programme and subsequently on the club’s website.

The intent behind the article – to bring to the attention of fans the additional costs that having a terrace rather than an all-seated stadium would bring thanks to current legislation – was agreed and is something that needed to be raised. However the tone of the article, and particularly the unfortunate choice of headline that was used on the website when the article was republished, suggests that a decision has already been made for the new stadium to be all-seated.

This is definitely not the case, and maintaining the option for fans to stand at matches is a very high priority for the Dons Trust Board. As Erik highlighted the additional costs are a major challenge, but we will be pushing to raise the necessary finance to give us a choice, whilst in parallel working with the various supporter and fan groups campaigning for safe standing to try and change the legislation that gives the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) no flexibility in the matter.

An explanation of how the current design can be adapted to provide standing, rail seating (the most likely form of safe-standing that may be allowed) or a seated area will be given at the next Dons Trust SGM on November 16, and fans are encouraged to come and give their views on this subject at that meeting prior to the launch of a survey of members on this and related topics in the New Year.

Matthew Breach
Dons Trust Board Chair


This article was amended on November 9 to replace an inaccurate reference to the Football Foundation.


  1. Standing should be pursued with vigour at the new ground. As a ST holder (& DT member) in the Chemflow end I thoroughly enjoy standing, together with the added atmosphere I believe it brings. A new ground in which people were forced to sit by stewards (it will happen) will definitely limit my enjoyment. I hope it is just coincidence that the DT vote 1 (back in 2 ticks) was carried out before this information came to light. I imagine many (myself included) could reconsider their vote. Standing at a new ground should be a crucial issue on which DT members should be questioned, with full implications outlined.

  2. Really do not see how £1 million to have standing at the new stadium would be a sensible use of money on any level (even if we had it). Spend on playing budget if we have money to burn!

    • I agree ‘money to burn’ should go on the playing budget.

      However, for me the only way such extra funds could be raised (as I think in truth we will struggle to get the base funding) is via specific sponsorship where such safe standing is effectively paid for by a individual (yes we have some with deep pockets) or more likely a company; they may put on the condition that the money is purely to be used for such a venture that bears their name.

    • We can’t afford to not have Safe Standing!
      Terrace/Safe standing = better support = better performances = better results = better experience = better attendances = more revenue = better players =better support.
      What’s more you can fit up to 1.8 times as many people in the space taken up by a seat so you can reduce ticket prices, be more accessible to those on low incomes and make more money!
      We are being fed a very one sided point of view!

    • How about we don’t give the rumored £1m to K’s and tell them to go to the Football Foundation as they want their money back.
      Facetious – but I don’t want to sit down and shut up.

  3. Many thanks for clarifying this.
    It may well be the sensible option to not have to hand back grants, but it’s good to see that the Dons Trust Board recognise that a dialogue (or perhaps the tone of a dialogue) is present.
    It’s a major financial decision and – although this one might well seem fine – it sets up a bad precedent for any future AFCW Ltd board who may not be as benign as the current one.
    We are still setting up conventions for the long term and it is very much appreciated that the DT Board are doing their job and keeping an eye on these kinds of decisions to be made (i.e. non-football off the pitch decisions)

  4. I still prefer to be able to stand at matches but aside from the financial arguments, if AFCW are in position where it’s a choice between an all-seater NPL and getting bogged down (or even prevented from having a new stadium) because of a determination to having standing, it’d be NPL all-seater for me.
    As and when the Dons progress through the leagues the inevitability of being required to be all seater increases, unless regulations change. Any new stadium needs to be future proof.

  5. Current unflexible legislation means that terracing would cost us a million more, which is clearly not sensible to a club of our means. I sense that, in time, that same legislation may well soften towards ‘safe standing’, but not in time for our design and build programme. Surely, the only sensible course of action is to design seating (to one end) that can, in time and relatively easily, be converted to safe standing?

  6. Thank you for posting your views. Please remember to come to the SGM on November 16 so that you can have your say there, too!

  7. I would like us to have safe standing but we are not rich oil barons. The debate needs to be wider. ie. IF we have £1m of spare capital, what should the priority be? A permanent and improved training facility? Better conferencing facilities to increase our revenue? An increased playing budget? Terracing? There are so many areas of the club that need investment, simply narrowing a debate about whether to have a terrace disregards all the other areas we should be investing into.

    I am however all for campaigning to introduce rail seating in English football and I think that future proofing design to retrofit these at the right time would be the preferred solution.

  8. Rail seating looks to be the way that safe standing will be re-introduced in the near future, can’t we just install it anyway, you can insist people sit until the law’s change?

  9. My ideal would be rail seating as it gives the best of both and will be more likely to be meet legislation requirements. As has been previously mentioned if all options are exhausted and the only way we will get the new ground is for it to be all-seater then that is what it will have be.

  10. There must surely be a saving in building standing over seating.

    Rails must end up being cheaper to install (and maintain) in the long run than seats, so there would be an off-set wouldn’t there?

    The total damage would be less than £770,000. Wouldn’t it?

  11. If the authorities can’t be convinced of the benefits of safe standing before we have to make a final decision I suggest that AFCW make sure it as easy as possible to convert an area of the stadium to safe standing when legislation allows.

    Does this change mean that the capacity of phase 1 will be reduced to approx 10,000?

    Is £1,000,000 really that significant in the overall budget – my finger in the air puts this at about 5% of the total cost.

    The club also need to gauge the impact an all seater would have on attendances with many who come to KM not willing to sit and therefore lost, possibly for ever.

  12. One Question:
    Would you prefer a safer, more atmospheric, cheaper, higher capacity, more socially inclusive safe standing area or an elitist, soulless, silent, more expensive seated area behind the goal at the New Plough Lane?
    We can’t afford to not have Safe Standing!
    Terrace/Safe standing = better support = better performances = better results = better experience = better attendances = more revenue = better players =better support.
    What’s more you can fit up to 1.8 times as many people in the space taken up by a seat so you can reduce ticket prices, be more accessible to those on low incomes and make more money! It is cheaper than seating and it costs less to maintain!
    Check out the business case for Safe standing on http://www.safestandingroadshow.co.uk/the-case-for-safe-standing/case-for-3
    At best we are being fed a very one sided point of view at worst we are being treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed on bull !

  13. Spending on players is ongoing, but getting a decision like this wrong will have long term implications for the atmosphere, some fans staying away and income. As a fans club, the fans enjoyment is critical and we can lead the way.

    Surely we can design to be able to adopt rail seating when it is approved. Looking at Germany, this has to be the way forward rather than having lots of stale concrete stadia. If we just go with seats. might as well add padding, pillows and a hot water bottle.

  14. To clarify, when I wrote that NPL needs to be future proof, to clarify, I’m sure at least one end of the ground could be designed flexibly so that it can start all-seater if that’s what current regulations require and be converted to rail-seating or standing should they change. The focus needs to be to be on getting planning permission. I certainly don’t think the Club should risk jeopardising this by getting bogged down in arguments with the various ‘powers that be’ over standing/rail seating/seating.

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