Monday, 27 January 2014

AFCB is starting to out grow Dean Court

For the first time on Saturday I could clearly see that on such days with big football matches Dean Court is really beginning to feel the strain. Okay, it's not every week that AFCB play Liverpool but you can see that there is trouble ahead. It is beginning to look ever clearer that the club is starting to out grow the ground which is something that I didn't think would happen so quickly. AFCB has managed in the Championship when big teams have come down, but you can see that if the club went up another division it would not be able to sustain itself with a crowd of 12,000.
The Goldsands stadium was packed from early on Saturday.
While AFCB could have drawn a team like Liverpool at any stage of their previous 13 years or so since the new Fitness First and then Goldsands stadium has been built, it has rarely happened that a side has caused the ground to basically bulge at the seams. But that was the case on Saturday. The electronic hoardings were cramped in down the edges of the pitch, cameras had to be marooned in islands of seats and the car park had to be very carefully managed. As we left the ground it took almost an hour just to get to Wessex Way!
Is there a way to expand Dean Court while improving
traffic congestion around the ground?
The frustration of drivers and local residents will be hard to contain if and when this happens regularly and as a supporter I want the club to do well and to be able to host big football matches. We already know that the Legends Bar was closed in part because the team needed the extra space for match preparation and Hot radio is similarly under pressure to remain at the stadium. We also heard that Jeff Mostyn is looking at plans for a new slip road exit to the Wessex Way to ease congestion from the ground.  A new slip road appears to be heading up the agenda.

In such circumstances buying the stadium back may not be such a priority unless a new stadium with a bigger capacity can be built on the same land. Otherwise AFCB may find that it is looking for a new home and I got the feeling that such a consideration is not a wild pipe dream but a possibility that the club has to take seriously in the next few years. Success brings growth and we know that the Liverpool game could have been sold out two or three times over. But such new stadiums take years to get planning permission for and are fraught with costly planning applications, delays and possibly years when AFCB is still trying to fill a new stadium with enough supporters. 

Standing room at the edges.
Moreover, who would fund the project? Would Maxim Demin and his fellow board members support such a venture? We only have to look at Brighton's Amex stadium to know that such new stadiums are difficult to build, but in the long run it may be the option that the club ultimately goes for. At the moment the temporary stand at the South end is evidence that Dean Court is still in transition, but will expanding that stand to the same size as the North stand itself create problems over more numbers coming through the turnstiles?

There will come a tipping point when some kind of action is taken. The first has already begun with all available space at Dean Court being carefully monitored and ensuring that best is made of all resources at the club. The car parking is an ongoing discussion with local residents and the council as AFCB would still like to make use of all the space by the ground. It is evacuating the immediate vicinity of the ground that is the problem when there is a capacity crowd. I wish I knew the answers but there are cleverer people than me working on this aspect of AFCB every day I would imagine.

While it would break my heart to leave Dean Court I can clearly see the need for the situation to improve as the club continues to grow with more potential supporters becoming aware that they have an excellent footballing side on their doorstep.  

BREAKING NEWS: AFCB appear to be making a bid for Yann Kermorgant of Charlton Athletic.


  1. Some have said if we can't fill the ground every week, why on earth do we need a bigger ground?
    It's a fair point on the face of it, but let's look a little deeper. Firstly, most seasons gate wise, we start off slowly, gates usually improve after the New Year. Possibly because we often do well during the first half of the season, only for everything to go belly up after that, so people play a waiting game to see how the season is panning out. Easy to criticise, but watching football has always been a drain on the families resources for many, so excusing the pun, Cherry picking often happens.
    The other major issue this season, was the placing of the away fans. As with Liverpool having the run of The South Stand, it then means home fans have all the other 3 sides, this frees up more seats. By restricting away clubs to around 1,300 seats, that also prevents our gates being well over 12,000 simply because many away teams would bring 3 - 4,000, even more in certain circumstances. Add to the fact, that people often like to go as a group, and at the moment it's not easy to do that. People won't want to queue for hours, one off's are fine, but people want it kept simple, the die hard ones mainly have ST's now. Liverpool games, are the ones where we can hopefully pull in a few more "regulars", yet people will often only come to see the bigger teams, not necessarily coming to see us, and that's no different to how it's always been, perhaps in time we can turn that around!!
    Much depends on Maxim obviously, we hear he wants to see us in The Premier League, can anyone seriously see a ground of 11,500 being big enough?? Hopefully that's a resounding no, I'd be worried if some thought we'd cope.
    When DC was built, I understood that the footings were such, we could build a tier up should we ever need too, whether that would be possible with housing behind the East and North stands is down to planning. Then of cause, it would be pointless, unless we owned the stadia. Our landlords are in no hurry to sell, and appear to be holding out for more than the going rate. So then you get into looking to move, we all know how difficult that would be in an area where there are precious few area's that would be suitable.
    You hit on a sore point with many, and that's the parking. I thought when it was re-formed, as I do now, that our "Pretty" car parking is not particularly well thought out. True it looks fabulous, but as though stuck in it for goodness knows how long, trying to get out can be another matter. I may be talking nonsense (not for the first time I hear you saying:)), because I don't personally use it, and it may not be the layout at all, but volume of traffic trying to get down Holdenhurst Road, hence the need for the slip road.
    As with everything else, I'm certain Maxim come up with the right solution.

  2. Look at the attendance figures for the division.
    The three clubs with the lowest attendances are the three promoted clubs, one of which is the only club with a ground smaller than ours. From the rest, only Millwall's average attendance would fit in our ground, add in Barnsley and Burnley as the only others whose *lowest* attendance would fit in DC.
    Brighton have the best figures, they average over twice our capacity although they do have a long-term problem there - they are close to their own capacity. Did they sell out for us? That was their highest of the season.

    I don't get to every game. I got to the Yeovil game early and got one of the last 3 or 4 (home) tickets available after being turned away at the first attempt. Over 300 more were at the Ipswich game. There have been more games with similar figures to Yeovil so I assume they were functionally sold out as well.

    Reintroducing standing would make a difference, I really enjoyed that at Brentford a year ago. Rebuilding the Ted Mac somewhat larger would help a bit.

    What is really a problem is Structdene, they do not appear to be holding out for more money - they do not appear to want to sell at all.. If the club have to move then Structdene gets to build and sell lots of new houses at no benefit to afcb, we can't finance a new stadium that way. We are in an expensive hole at the moment.

    I have not used the afcb car park for years - ever since I was totally parked in for over an hour after an evening match. I tried the roads across Wessex Way for a while. Recently I have experimented with taking a bus, that went quite well.

    1. Sadly buses don't go from Dean Court in Bournemouth to Redhill in Surrey!