An English football club is being forced to close a stand at its 25,000-seat stadium to cut costs, in what could be the first of many similar moves at other clubs, a sports business expert predicts.
The affected club, Darlington F.C., is currently in seventh place in League Two, however, it slumped into administration last week following problems attracting crowds to the home matches. The average home crowd at the stadium is currently below 3000 people. Ticket prices are £16 ($22) per adult. The move to close the west stand at its ground, Darlington Arena, is an attempt to improve the atmosphere and cut costs at the club, the side’s commercial director, Christine Balford, said on the club’s Web site. Balford said the move was forced by administrators. “This is an attempt to improve the atmosphere at home games, whilst saving costs. “All season ticket holders will be temporarily relocated and will be able to use the facilities of the south stand,” Balford said. Darlington F.C. has also increased the cover price of match day programs and has cut the number of complimentary tickets given away for home matches. Professor Simon Chadwick, director of the Center for the International Business of Sport (CIBS) at Coventry University, UK, told CNN that many football clubs may soon find themselves in the position of having to make a similar move. “This is the economic reality of having to strip costs.
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“Generally, League One and League Two and even some Premier League clubs may be affected. What you will start to see is other clubs having to follow suit.” Chadwick said Darlington’s case was a particularly bad one as they had a stadium which was far too big for the club’s size. However, the issue of crowds not filling stadiums was a wider concern for many clubs. “This is their life-blood. A lot of their revenue comes from selling tickets …if they’re not filling stadiums then it is a big issue for them,” he said. Chadwick said closing stands could help cut match-day costs and was often a more palatable option for fans, rather than selling players.