Stoke City: Tony Scholes hints that Britannia Stadium expansion is unlikely this summer
STOKE chief executive Tony Scholes has hinted that City are unlikely to extend the Britannia Stadium this summer.
The club have planning permission to install 1,780 extra seats by filling in the scoreboard corner between the South and Seddon stands, taking the Brit’s overall capacity to 30,172.
However, Stoke haven’t made a final decision on whether to press ahead with the work, and Scholes says that even if they do that this summer it might be too soon to begin the project.
He explained: “We are still to decide. We have planning permission, so we are still waiting to see in terms of this summer.
“But I think it is fair to say that as time moves on it is less and less likely. You can’t put these things up overnight.”
Scholes also reiterated that City will only expand the stadium if they are confident they can regularly fill the extra seats.
That’s been their position ever since the possibility of expanding the stadium was first considered when City were promoted to the Premier League in 2008.
Scholes added: “We have said over the last five years that we are only going to expand the stadium when we are confident that we can fill it.
“So the moment we say ‘yes we are going to do it’, you can take it that we are confident we are going to fill that corner.
“It would be fairly pointless to build it if we only thought we were going to fill it for the three, four or five games when the so-called bigger clubs come to town.
“We have to have a plan in place where we are going to fill it for every game.”
With season tickets for Stoke’s 2013/14 campaign now on sale, the club will be looking closely at the take-up as they ponder expansion, which would probably go ahead next summer if the scheme gets the green light.
Meanwhile, Scholes confirmed Stoke are not planning to hold a “glamour friendly” to mark the club’s 150th anniversary this year.
Instead, the club will celebrate the occasion with a series of soon-to-be announced events around the last Premier League game of this season at the Brit, against Tottenham on May 12.
Scholes said: “We have spent so long looking at this and thinking whether we should have a ‘big game’ friendly.
“We have spoken to a number of people, including supporters groups about it. The conclusion that we always come back to is that we are playing in the best and toughest league in the world with many of the best teams in the world. Therefore, this year we are playing 19 big home games already.
“Also, what would we have to do for a 150th anniversary game to make it something special above what a Premier League game is already?
“There were probably three or four clubs where it was worth doing it for and, for those three or four clubs, the cost of doing it was ridiculous. Also, in terms of the logistics, it was hard to make it work.
“So we wanted the 150th anniversary celebrations to be about something different than a big friendly game and asking supporters to dig into their pockets again.
“So we have decided to take one of the games we are playing in the Premier League this year and to badge it up as our celebration game.
“We’ll do that for the last home game against Tottenham Hotspur.”
Scholes was speaking at the Knypersley and Biddulph Stoke City Supporters’ Club this week, where he was joined by first-team players Ryan Shawcross and Michael Kightly, and the club’s new technical director Mark Cartwright.
He has been appointed to head the club’s scouting and player recruitment department, and will work closely with Scholes and manager Tony Pulis.
However, Cartwright made clear the manager has the final say on which players to buy.
He said: “My job is to help Tony in respect of transfers and finding targets and giving him players that match everything he wants.
“Then it is Tony’s decision on who we go for.
“So my job is on the recruitment side of things and giving Tony the opportunity to get the players from around the world who suit exactly what he wants.”