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Thursday 26 January 2012
From the Macclesfield programme

From time to time we reproduce articles from the programme which have not been reported elsewhere. The following article appreared in the Macclesfield programme and updates fans on progess on the plans to build a new all-seater stand at the Kingston Road End.

PROVIDING FOR THE FAMILY

Chief Executive Erik Samuelson has an update on progress with plans for the new all-seater stand at the Kingston Road End, and explains why a significant part of it will be given over to families.

Good evening and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Macclesfield Town. It is time to bring you up to date with our proposals for a new all-seater stand at the Kingston Road End, which is necessary to make us compliant with the Football League requirement to have a total of 2,000 seats under cover. Yesterday we sent out tender documents asking for bids to build the stand. The bids should be with us within four weeks, and by late February we will be able to decide on the successful bidder.

At a Football Club Board meeting last week we spent some time reviewing the final plans. As a result, it is likely that a substantial part of the stand’s 900-plus seats will be dedicated to a family area. I’ll explain.

The Football League has commissioned a series of ”mystery shopper” visits by a family (in our case two adults and a 14-year-old) as part of its Family Excellence Award scheme. As implied by the title, the family anonymously assess a wide range of things such as how easy it is to find out when the next game is, how easy it is to buy tickets, any unusual or particularly interesting features of the matchday experience and anything that needs improvement.

The feedback was interesting and useful. In summary, our mystery shoppers’ comments varied from key issues to some more esoteric observations. So it was good to hear that they had “a very good core fan experience” with “great craic in the home end”, high praise for Terry’s Badges as an unusual and innovative feature and, slightly bizarrely, praise for the widest selection of condiments they’ve seen at a burger bar!

There was lots of useful feedback in the report about where we might improve, and we will be addressing that in the near future, but it confirmed one issue of which we were already well aware – namely the need to make seats available for families with young children.

We already have a substantial number of young fans coming to our games: 12% of season ticket holders and over 15% of fans who pay on the gate for the terraces are under 16. It’s not exactly an original thought, but these are our fans of the future and we must look after them – which is why a terrace season ticket for under- 16s costs just £25, the same price as when we started playing at Kingsmeadow in 2002.

But we know that it can be hard for the youngest fans to see much of the game from the terraces, and there is anecdotal evidence that a lot of these fans would switch to a seat if one were available. Also, I’m sure it would attract other fans if we had a substantial family area. Which brings me back to where I started, and explains why we are planning to set aside a substantial number of seats for families.

Another decision we made was to allocate some seats to away fans. At the moment we don’t really have any seats to spare, although we do reserve a few for older and infirm visiting fans. We feel we ought to offer some seats to away fans, and the obvious place is at the east end of the new stand, where we can allocate about 90 seats. This will also have the advantage of allowing us to comply with FA Cup rules which require us to make available 15% of our capacity, i.e. over 750 places, for away fans at FA Cup games (we only need to give 10% for Football League games). There isn’t sufficient capacity on the terrace to do this comfortably, so allocating seats will enable us to meet that requirement.

Even though we’ve been planning for this for well over a year, I’m still a bit taken aback at how time has flown and the project is almost upon us. I’ll report back with any other news as it arises.