The news that we have, again, almost sold out our season tickets before the waiting list fans are even offered a chance at them re-opens an old debate at our club; is it time to consider spending a few quid and increasing the stadium capacity?
The argument against this has always been the same one; how often, realistically, could you expect to fill a stadium of 75,000 plus fans for Scottish football matches? I’ve always felt that the answer is the same one Fergus knew about way back when; if you build it, they will come.
There are games in the campaign just past when we’d have sold it out, and if Champions League Group Stage football is about to become the norm – and changes at UEFA mean that it’s more than likely – you know we’d fill it for those games.
I think we’d fill it for most games.
Adding 15,000 onto the gate would also give us yet another massive structural advantage over our rivals, making our stadium 50% larger than theirs. That is a permanent, unshakable, unalterable advantage of quite significant proportions.
We already make between £5 and £10 million more than they do from having a 60,000 all-seater to their 50,000 … we could double that at a stroke and that translates into a spending differential which they will struggle to make up even in a good year.
The naysayers will do what they always do and talk about how unfeasible the project is, and cast doubts on its viability. But that’s what they said when Fergus unveiled his plans for the current stadium, when our season ticket base was virtually non-existent.
There was never any question in his mind that we would fill the stadium every week, just as I don’t have any doubts that we could sell those 15,000 extra seats quite easily.
The debate ought to be had. All we’re doing is limiting our own potential, and this club should be thinking bigger than that. Stadium expansion is only one element of that, but it’s one that would be guaranteed to generate additional income in perpetuity.