Stoke City Manager Tony Pulis and Soccer AM presenter Helen Chamberlain unveiled Torquay United Football Club’s new all-seater grandstand, as the Gulls took on Stoke City FC in a pre-season friendly to mark the occasion.
The new stand was built with the help of £750,000 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).
The new stand has been named ‘Bristow's Bench’ in honour of benefactor Paul Bristow, who died in 2010. Torquay fan Paul won £15m on the lottery with his wife Thea in 2004 and became a director at the club. Thea, who has taken her late husband’s place as a director of the club, performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony, alongside Tony and Helen.
The large FSIF grant went a long way to ensuring Torquay United could replace the previous wooden structure that had been condemned with a 1,770 seater stand, which will also house improved facilities for disabled supporters, replacement changing rooms and media rooms.
With the old stand in place, Torquay’s Plainmoor stadium held a capacity crowd of 5,545. The new stand increases its capacity to over 6,000 and will greatly improve the match day experience for Gulls fans.
Funded with £6m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Bill Phillips, Managing Director of Torquay United FC, said: “This project increases the capacity of the stadium to over 6,000 spectators, and replaces an 80 year old wooden structure. Without the funding from the FSIF, the project would never have got off the ground.”
Peter McCormick, FSIF Chairman, said: “I am delighted that my colleagues and I have been able to award this grant to Torquay United Football Club to allow them to build an all-seater grandstand.
“FSIF staff work hard to make sure that the funding that is generously provided by the Premier League each year goes as far as possible and benefits as many clubs and supporters as it possibly can.”
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