Doncaster Rovers: South Stand changes dominate Meet The Owners event

Gavin Baldwin
Gavin Baldwin

The move to make the South Stand at the Keepmoat an unreserved area proved the main talking point of an at times fiery Meet The Owners event last night.

Chief executive Gavin Baldwin in particular was faced with a number of questions and complaints from supporters unhappy with the decision.

Several fans opted to air their concerns over losing ownership of seats, some of which had been occupied since the stadium opened in 2007.

But Baldwin moved to reassure supporters that the club would meet with them individually to come to a solution on any issue created by the changes.

“Our commitment to all people in the South Stand who want a reserved seat is that we will find you another seat in the stadium at no extra cost,” Baldwin said.

“If you buy a season ticket and aren’t happy after four weeks of the season I’d meet you personally and we’d come up with a solution that you were happy with.

“I have no concerns about meeting with supporters to see if problems have manifested, because the clubs we’ve spoken to faced similar concerns and they worked through them with the fans.

“The research we have done talking to clubs like Leicester, Crystal Palace and Everton for instance, is that people had very real concerns that they won’t be able to sit in their seat.

“But talking to Leicester, a gentleman there had that concern about going to unreserved but then has sat in the same seat every game for seven years because it became custom and practice for that that’s where you sat.

“It became just what happened, that it was your seat.

“I know people say they only want to sit in the South Stand and that is fair enough.

“We would say if you want to stay there, you will probably get a regular seat and if that doesn’t work come back to us and we’ll work with you again.”

Baldwin admitted Rovers could have done more to communicate the changes to supporters, several of who at the forum claimed they knew nothing about the proposal until receiving details about renewing season tickets.

And he pledged that fans will be contacted directly over any similar proposals in the future.

He said: “We have learned as a club, and this is criticism of ourselves, when we think we’ve consulted with everyone, we need to consult again.

“We put in the programme and had it on the website several times as well as having a couple of fans’ forums.

“We believe wrongly that we communicated with everyone.

“The commitment we’ve given is that if we do anything like this again in the future, we will write or ring people to say this is what we’re proposing to do so that you’re happy and we come up with a solution.”

The proposals mean that season ticket holders wanting to have an allocated seats can now only buy in the East or West stands.

Driving the idea is a desire to generate a better atmosphere at the Keepmoat, one which emanates from the South Stand.

Baldwin said; “What we’ve been told from talking to many, many clubs is to improve the atmosphere in the ground you must fill the area behind the goal.

“And we were told one of the best ways to do that is to create an unreserved area and try and generate the atmosphere from there and it will spread around the ground.

“What we have tried to do is increase the atmosphere in the ground, that is our starting point.

“Therefore we have price incentivised for people to move to the South Stand by making it £13 a game.

“Our aspiration is not to deliberately upset people but to increase the atmosphere in the ground.”

Baldwin also revealed a significant increase in early bird season ticket sales from the same point last year, including growth in the controversial South Stand.

That increase came despite Rovers still being in the Championship at this point last year.

Baldwin said: “The South Stand so far has sold four times as many season tickets as it has ever done before so there is a body of people out there who want this to happen.

Therefore I support the strategy and hopefully the team will benefit from the strategy.

“Sales so far indicate the South Stand will be very, very full next year.

“On the figures compared to this time last year, season tickets are twice as high this year.

“The West Stand is 44 per cent up on last year, the South Stand 33 per cent and the East stand is 15 per cent up.

“That would indicate at the moment that each stand will be fuller at this stage this year as they were last year.”

WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE SOUTH STAND CHANGES?

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