Harrogate Town extension plans revealed

Artist's impression of the new stands (s)
Artist's impression of the new stands (s)

Harrogate Town’s bid to climb the football league pyramid appears goalbound as the club received permission to erect two stands, increasing capacity at the CNG stadium by 800 to nearly 4,000.

The ambitious club hope to surge to promotion next season from the Blue Square North league to the Conference, one tier below the football league.

But the club’s off-field promotion push is already well underway, and, depending on club progress and funding, work could begin next June.

Work on stands at the Wetherby Road and hospital ends of the CNG stadium could have started this summer, had the club not been forced to spend thousands on the pitch surface this season.

Matches were postponed as the new surface failed to seed and then drain properly in the face of wet weather.

Chairman Irving Weaver, whose son Simon manages the team, says the club is applying for Football Foundation grants to fund 50 per cent of the build.

He said: “We saw with our FA Cup match this season, the scope is there to get over 3,000 people to games.

“But if we want to progress on and off the pitch we have to revitalise the hospitality, and that is starting to show now.

“The Wetherby Road stand needs a refit, and we will build a stand at the hospital end because, should we achieve promotion, and it is a big ask, we need room for the sides who will bring lots of fans with them.”

Should Town be promoted, the CNG is fit for conference-level games, but Mr Weaver believes better infrastructure can attract fans.

He explained: “We want to try and get attendances from 400 up to 700.

“That is through performances on the pitch, and people trusting the club.”

Town’s pitch troubles appear to be resolved, leaving the club able to focus on the matchday atmosphere.

Mr Weaver said: “We spent more than we planned because of the enormous problems with the weather.

“We lost revenue, and corporate activity was down because we didn’t know if matches would be on.

“The grants would fund 50 per cent of the cost of each stand, and we hope to have them verified by March.

“It all depends how we perform and how people react to the club.

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