Pompey await Fratton capacity boost

Mark Catlin. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131241-6)
Mark Catlin. Picture: Paul Jacobs (131241-6)

Pompey are hoping to take a giant stride towards restoring the full might of the Fratton Faithful.

The club have splashed out approaching £500,000 on vital improvements to Fratton Park facilities during the close season.

Much has centred on essential safety work, after last summer saw the ground’s capacity reduced to 18,204.

Previously seating 21,178, Portsmouth City Council made the adjustment while re-issuing Pompey’s safety certificate.

As a result, the Blues’ top Fratton Park attendance last season was 18,181 against Oxford, despite selling out the home end for several fixtures.

Now, following crucial maintenance work, the club is awaiting the council’s decision on the latest safety certificate. And chief executive Mark Catlin is optimistic the capacity can, in part, be increased.

He said: ‘Talks are ongoing with the council.

‘We have addressed everything we feel was put to us last year.

‘Of course, there are elements with the Milton end and seats not being of the right dimensions which we are never going to get away with unless we completely demolish that side.

‘But in regards to everything else, we are confident we will get the capacity increased.

‘It won’t be above 20,000 at the minute because of the Milton end.

‘But we will get something in between where we were and the 20,000, which will be great.

‘We had capacities cut in the north and south stands through not having a sprinkler system.

‘We have addressed that, as well as other concerns with the way the seats were set out in relation to the stairs.

‘We have done well there, so if we can get the capacity back above 19,000 I think that will be a tremendous achievement.

‘We are confident and waiting for the council now, which should be resolved in the next few weeks.

‘In addition, we have had the pitch relaid, drainage put in, a completely new top put on it, and that has coincided with the all work put into the training ground.

‘Everything has been funded externally, so it hasn’t been taken out of club funds. It is money that has been put in interest free and in return for equity.’

Pompey’s average home attendance last term was 15,460.

However, the largest attendances were Oxford (18,181), Plymouth (18,026), Bristol Rovers (17,998) and Cheltenham (17,254).

Meanwhile, consultation is taking place over also improving disabled facilities.

Catlin added: ‘We have employed Level Playing Field to audit the accessibility of the whole stadium and are waiting for recommendations.

‘They are an industry-recognised leader and rather than us dictate what is in the best interests of disabled fans, they will advise us.’