Portsmouth's rejuvenated North Stand back at 'full capacity' - for first time since Fratton Park's Premier League years

Pompey’s North Stand will have all its seats available to fans on Saturday – for the first time in more than a decade.

According to Steve Cripps, not since the Blues occupied the Premier League has that section of Fratton Park been without seat restrictions imposed on safety grounds.

While an additional 700 seats, including 24 for disabled supporters, have expanded the North Stand’s overall capacity.

Lincoln’s visit to the south coast will signal all of Fratton Park’s stands back in action following extensive redevelopment work which has continued through the summer.

The finishing touches are presently being applied to the North and South Stands, although these are considered ‘decorative’ rather than structural.

And Cripps, the managing director of PMC Construction and Development Services, insists not since the days of Sol Campbell, Lassana Diarra and Niko Kranjcar has the North Stand had every seat available.

He told The News: ‘The North Stand had a restriction on capacity, so hasn’t been used above 85 per cent for a long time.

‘It had uneven concourses, the concourses weren’t wide enough, irregular stairs and a lack of safety barriers. All that has now been corrected.

A view of the new disabled section in North Stand Lower

‘This is the first time in a good few years that the North Stand will be at full capacity, possibly since back in the Premier League days.

‘Four years ago there was a section in the north-east corner which was out for five matches while we undertook some structural work.

‘We then brought those seats back into play, but couldn’t bring the stand capacity up because of the other failures in there.

‘The North Stand has had its challenges because it was rebuilt during the season. So when you’re playing at home Tuesday-Saturday you have a very narrow margin of space to get those seats in.

One of the new milling areas introduced into the North Stand to accommodate people using the nearby kiosks

‘The system we used in the North Stand was a much slower system than when you are in an open stadium with no matches going on.

‘Hopefully fans will appreciate the current North Stand changes and see how it has improved so much for the better.’

A recent test event against Coventry City, saw restricted capacity in the North and South stands, with the Fratton End closed.

That produced an attendance of 5,694, with 458 away fans in the Milton End.

The view of the new disabled section in North Stand Upper.

That was followed by Pompey Women hosting Brighton in a friendly, with almost 3,000 in the South Stand – the only section open.

Having studied findings from both test events, improvements have been made – and remain on the agenda.

Cripps added: ‘In the North Stand, a disabled lift will be installed, while we also want to redecorate various areas over there during the next 6-8 weeks.

‘We want to decorate the concession floors and make general enhancements as we go through where it has been left tired over the years.

‘When you battle to get the stadium ready, you can’t pick up all the oddities in that area, so fans will continue to see that change.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

The revamped kiosk at the far end of North Stand Lower, towards the Milton End corner.

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