English League One football club Bristol Rovers has announced that the Memorial Stadium’s new South Stand will not be ready for the start of the season.
Rovers said the project has been delayed due to “issues outside of the club’s control”. The club’s first home match of the season is against Barnsley on August 12, and the visiting team will be limited to 500 terrace tickets, with no disabled or accessible seating, due to the delays.
Rovers announced in April that the South Stand would undergo renovation work over the summer, with the plans seeing the old South and Southwest Stand removed and replaced with one solid-roof structure that incorporates the whole space, offering a full wraparound, complete with a new corner section.
At the time, the club said that it expected the work to be completed in time for the new season, but little progress has been made. Bristol Live has reported that the area remains “flattened and fenced off” as the club still awaits planning permission amid opposition from some local residents.
Rovers had asked the English Football League (EFL) if it could play its first two matches of the season away from home, but this was not possible due to fixture sequencing and compilation rules. Rovers also asked Barnsley if it would consider reversing the fixtures between the two sides, but the Yorkshire club was not able to agree to this proposal as it would have disrupted its own schedule.
Rovers’ statement added: “Following this, we have been in discussions with the EFL to assess our options. This included looking into the possibility for a postponement whilst also reviewing the processes required to facilitate supporters attending the game safely.
“However, the EFL has informed us that if the club was unable to fulfil this or any other fixture, it would result in an investigation under the regulations. As a club, this isn’t a risk that we were prepared to take, despite the mitigating circumstances in this instance.
“We appreciate that time is now tight before the game so our team will be looking to contact all those currently with season tickets in the affected areas to discuss their specific requirements to see if we can move you to another part of the ground for this fixture. This process will start immediately, and we urge all supporters involved to remain patient whilst our team attempt to find a solution for you.”
Bristol Live reported that around 600 Rovers supporters with season tickets in the South Stand will be given £10 (€12/$13) in credit to use on future ticket purchases.
Rovers has apologised to its own fans and Barnsley supporters for the inconvenience caused, and the club will continue to review the situation on a match-by-match basis.