On Tuesday evening before the Reading game, club officials met with fans at the Cardiff City Stadium to discuss their future plans for the Canton Stand. Tracey Marsh attended on behalf of the Supporters’ Trust and Dave Sugarman was also present in his capacity as a member of the club’s Away Travel Group. The following is Trust member Dave’s report of the event:
Tuesday’s meeting was called by Cardiff City Stadium manager Wayne Nash in response to discussions which have been taking place on the fans’ message boards in recent weeks with regard to the atmosphere inside the stadium on match days. It seems there are many supporters who believe the atmosphere within the ground is currently a little flat and needs to be improved.
Trust member Gwyn Davies, who was present at the meeting, has been leading calls for the fans who wish to generate a livelier atmosphere to move from other areas of the ground to the Canton Stand, where he believes a designated singing section could be created. Gwyn has spoken of his hope that the club and the authorities will take a more relaxed view as regards fans standing in the Canton Stand, and his ideas have been getting plenty of support.
Ever since December 2008, when plans for the seating arrangements at the new stadium were first unveiled during presentations at Ninian Park, club officials have talked of their desire to create a dedicated singing section in the centre blocks of the Canton Stand. It has always been made clear that the stewards will be more tolerant of fans standing in that area of ground, while standing in other areas will be outlawed.
Nevertheless, significant numbers of supporters have frequently been standing in Blocks 117 and 118 of the Ninian Stand since the stadium opened. This has led to the club receiving regular complaints from other fans in those blocks who either want to or need to sit down. The stewards have been getting increasingly tough with individuals who are persistently standing in that particular area of the ground and the strong inference from the discussions during Tuesday’s meeting was that the clampdown is set to continue.
Another issue with regards to Blocks 117 and 118 of the Ninian Stand is that the club will be required to increase the size of the away section should the team get promoted to the Premier League. Therefore, some of the season ticket holders who are currently located in those blocks may be forced to move at some point in the future.
Taking the above factors into account, the club’s officials are very keen to work with all of the fans’ groups during the coming months in a bid to achieve a passionate atmosphere and a safe environment within the new stadium that will suit all the supporters who visit it.
The attendees at Tuesday evening’s meeting included Julian Jenkins, who is the club’s Head of Customer Services and Ticketing, Mark Jenkins and Dave Motherway, who are senior stewards at the Cardiff City Stadium, PC Simon Insole, who is a Football Intelligence Officer with the South Wales Police, and Graham Bond, who is the Group Leader of Cardiff Council’s Safety Advisory Group.
All of those present gave their support to the creation of a dedicated singing section in the Canton Stand. Some of the key points raised during the meeting were:
1) Club officials are very keen to involve all of the fans’ groups in this initiative, including the Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust, the Cardiff City Supporters’ Club and the fans who use the internet message boards. During the coming months, supporters will be encouraged to make suggestions on how to improve the atmosphere inside the ground, with particular emphasis being placed upon the Canton Stand. The club is open to all ideas and wants this initiative to be fan-led.
2) None of the supporters who currently hold season tickets in the Canton Stand will be asked to move in order accommodate anyone who wants to relocate to that area of the ground. Like all other season ticket holders, those who are currently situated in the Canton Stand have until 31 March to reserve their seats for next season. The only way fans will lose their current seats in the Canton Stand is if they fail to renew by that date.
3) There are around 2,000 seats in the Canton Stand that are not yet allocated to season ticket holders. Of those, approximately 800 are in the four central blocks of the stand, with the majority of the vacant seats situated towards the front of the stand.
4) The club receives regular complaints from fans regarding persistent standing in Blocks 117 and 118 of the Ninian Stand, but no complaints about persistent standing in the Canton Stand have ever been received.
5) Platinum Ambassadors who wish to relocate to the Canton Stand from other areas of the ground will not lose any of their Ambassador benefits, including the guaranteed five-year price freeze, even if moving seats results in them purchasing cheaper season tickets.
Tracey Marsh revealed that the Supporters’ Trust hasn’t received a single complaint from its members regarding the proposed creation of a singing section in the Canton Stand despite suggestions on one of the internet message boards to the contrary. Tracey confirmed that the organization is fully supportive of the idea and intends to play a full part in the consultation process which is set to develop during the weeks ahead.
My personal view is that the initiative of creating a dedicated singing in the Canton Stand is a very positive one which should have some significant benefits for all concerned. Hopefully, the idea will be embraced by a large number of fans and the atmosphere within the stadium will improve as a result.