BURNLEY Football Club has been accused of turfing out fans from seats at Turf Moor that many of them have held for years.
The move follows the club’s decision to create extra space in the Jimmy McIlroy Lower Stand for extra corporate seats as part of its Project Premiership plan.
The plan, just launched, aims to regain Burnley’s Premier League status by “maximising every possible revenue stream to finance as strong a playing squad as possible”.
Part of this is the Premier Club plan which is described as “a new style of supporter and business club membership with a spacious and modern lounge, bar and dining facilities” according to the club’s website.
However, this would mean relocating some fans to make space for the Premier Club.
Scores of fans, many of whom bought their tickets before the end of last season so they could secure their seats, were shocked when they received a letter saying these seats would not now be available.
Much of the anger from fans has come from the timing of the decision, just weeks before the new season kicks off.
Scores have contacted the Express while many more have vented their anger on the Clarets Mad fans’ website.
One wrote: “Totally unimpressed. Have had my season ticket in the third row from the very back for 10 or 11 seasons now, and to have this happen so late in the day – even at all – is very inconsiderate indeed. As people have said, we don’t seem to count and all the good seats will have been taken. Another example of honest fans being downgraded in favour of the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’.”
Another fan who rang the Express said he was furious as he had built up relationships with fans around him in that part of the stand over the years.
He said: “I have had the same seat for a decade. Part of the joys of watching football is the banter with other fans.”
The club’s chief executive Paul Fletcher said he understood fans’ frustration. He said: “I totally understand how some of the fans are feeling. In a perfect world we would have made the decision a few months ago but it was impossible to do so.
“The club is competing against many others to regain our Premier League status and to help us do that we have to raise more revenue.
“Just 4% of seating at Turf Moor is corporate which is below many of our rivals, some of which have 12% corporate seating in their stadia.
“We have a lot of unused corporate space in the Jimmy McIlroy stand which we need to use and the idea was first mooted sometime back with fans who were told we may need their seats at some point in the future.
“The development will affect around 100 fans and I am happy to meet them individually to discuss this.
“We have brought in a specialist, Ken Sharp, to help us with this project. He has previously sold £36m. of corporate seats to other clubs and we are delighted he will be helping us to raise much-needed revenue.”
Mr Fletcher also revealed the club hopes to take ownership of Turf Moor, which it currently rents, saying the club’s future “has to be in our own hands.”