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Torquay United aim to fill the family stand

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 01, 2012

WORRYINGLY BARE: How the Family Stand looked when Torquay United hosted league leaders Gillingham at Plainmoor on a midweek Tuesday last month Photo: Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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TORQUAY UNITED'S new 'Bristow's Bench' grandstand is proving so popular with Gulls fans that it's hitting seating and terracing around the rest of Plainmoor.

Now United are coming up with new cut-price offers to try and tempt supporters back into the refurbished Sondico Family Stand at the Ellacombe End of the ground.

The club has just thrashed out a Family Ticket, which will allow four people (2 adults & 2 children) to sit in the Family Stand for £30.

United are also offering a Half-Season Ticket (£170 adults), which will come into effect from the New Year and will cover the last ten home league games of the season.

Chairman Simon Baker said: "Bristow's Bench has been a fantastic addition to Plainmoor, and we're very proud of it.

"But in some ways it has become a victim of his own success.

"The key is getting more people into the Family Stand, and we are thinking carefully about how we get supporters back into that end."

United opened the 1,800-seater Bristow's Bench in the summer after a nine-month construction project which cost £1.9 million.

It includes new dressing-rooms and other facilities, and an IT teaching suite used by adjoining Westlands School.

But the Gulls also completed the replacement of 1,300 seats in the Family Stand recently, sponsored by a deal with kit suppliers Sondico.

While the Bench was being built, reducing Plainmoor to three sides, the Family Stand and the Popular Side terrace were often packed last season as Martin Ling's squad reached the League Two Play-Offs.

But United have undertaken the improvements against a background of recession, and they are now trying to attract more people to matches, as well as swelling numbers in different stands.

Attendances at their first eight league games have averaged 2,769 – that's only a hundred down on the same stage last season and compares favourably with reduced gates at other Football League clubs.

"There is very little good news out there, money is tight for everyone, child benefit is being cut – we're well aware of the problems," said Baker.

"We came out of the recent Price of Football survey pretty well.

"I stand on the Pop Side, and no one has mentioned ticket prices to me.

"They might complain about the lack of pasties or the club clock not working, but I think they understand that we have to generate enough income to keep the team competitive and push the club forward.

"You also have to be very careful, when you come up with special offers, that you don't hack off your season-ticket holders.

"They are some of our most loyal fans, and they put their money up front back in the summer.

"So the Family and Half-Season tickets are what we'll do this year, and before we do next season's prices we'll have another big think about how we can make football at Plainmoor as affordable as possible for everyone."

United can give their coffers a timely boost in the FA Cup, and they open their campaign in Saturday's First Round Proper at Plainmoor (3pm) against either Harrogate Town (Conference North) or Hyde (Conference Premier), who were trying to complete their delayed replay last night.

The state of Harrogate's Wetherby Road pitch forced the match to be moved to local rivals Harrogate Railway Athletic's ground as all concerned tried to grapple with more heavy rain in north Yorkshire this week.

The Gulls have enjoyed good cup runs in recent seasons, and Baker said: "I love the FA Cup – it's an irresistible mixture of money and glory."

There's £18,000 in prize-money at stake on Saturday, plus another £27,000 waiting in Round Two, and shares of gate receipts.

Manager Ling, who saw his team move into the Play-Off zone with last weekend's 1-0 win over Morecambe, said: "We all dream of Man United away in the Third Round, but there's decent money to be made before then.

"And that may mean that I can sign a player who can help us in the league later in the season."

United (Ball No.10) are aiming to be in the Second Round draw which is due to be broadcast live on ITV1 on Sunday at 2.45pm.

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  • Corsham999  |  November 02 2012, 2:38PM

    Make at least 4 games at Plainmoor £5 to get in for the Popside and the family stand for everyone and £10 for the Bench and see how that pans out.

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  • Antcommander  |  November 02 2012, 8:42AM

    Who would continue to ride in an old banger, when they've just got themselves a new car? Bristows bench gives a superior vantage point to watch the match, and being on the side of the pitch is a much better viewing angle than the family stand. The popularity of this great new stand was surely foreseen. There is only one way around this.....reduce prices for the family stand. It can't compete, as it stands. It doesn't have the atmosphere of the pop side....so it needs something going for it. Something must change. I see that they are bringing in a family ticket for this stand (2 adults, 2 kids for £30), great idea. They should also make this a 1 adult, 3 kids option as well. I also agree with Neeneeoils thoughts above.

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  • neeneeoil  |  November 01 2012, 7:13PM

    How about the club giving free seats to a school class at each home game of the season. This would fill empty spaces in the family stand and these kids would all be potential life long fans like many others who were taken to games in their early years. An investment for the future at no cost to the club.

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