Portsmouth fans to get first glimpse of revamped North stand in televised encounter with Oxford

To the discerning eye of the television audience, it will not necessarily be obvious.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 12:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 1:39 pm

Yet the company overseeing the latest work at Fratton Park has promised the North stand will be ‘completely different’ for those supporters it houses.

The Blues return to action on Friday for the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final against Oxford United.

Since April, Cosham-based PMC Construction and Development Services have been carrying out essential work on the North stand.

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Such was the alarming deterioration of the aged structure, the upper section was faced with closure on health and safety grounds for the 2020-21 campaign.

Work is expected to be completed before the end of the month, although, with football presently behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, it will be a while before supporters can experience the improvements.

Steve Cripps, managing director of PMC, told The News: ‘Probably those watching through a TV camera on Friday will not notice the difference.

‘However, those that eventually use the North stand will definitely see it.

Work to Pompey's North stand is expected to be finished towards the end of this month

‘They won’t get wet, acoustically it’s better, it doesn’t rattle and the lighting in there has also changed.

‘Before it was a pretty dreary stand, especially at the back in the upper section. There were a lot of holes which the rain dripped through, cladding used to rattle and the speakers vibrated against the cladding.

‘From that point of view, it has completely changed and definitely improved. It’s a completely different stand now, it will be lighter, drier and safer.

‘The roof and cladding was past its sell-by date. All the bolts and fixings were really on their last legs and the steel was corroded. It had decayed where the rain was penetrating through, corroding the bolts.

Work to Pompey's North Stand has been ongoing since April. Note the change in lighting to the stand's roof

‘When the cantilever section was added many years ago, they didn’t use galvanised bolts, which in turn corroded sections, so you are correcting mistakes from years ago.

‘Had this work not been carried on, they would not have been sat in the North stand this coming season.

‘It would have had to be massively reduced in capacity.’

PMC carried out similar work on the South stand last year, development understood to have been priced at six-figures.

With planning permission still required to carry out Milton end improvements, attention this summer turned to the North stand.

Although the alternative would have seen sections fail to meet health and safety demands.

Cripps added: ‘We have been working with the local authority and just couldn’t prove that the cladding and roof was viable to stay in situ.

‘We brought in structural engineers, we had second opinions, every opinion came back to a full replacement.

‘You have to get it signed off every year and we were trying to work with the local authority to see if elements can be retained and elements could be replaced.

‘When we took it off, it was highlighting more problems that we were aware of, so it was a good decision by the club.’

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