Northampton Town chief executive James Whiting says the installation of new seats in the east stand at Sixfields shows ‘how far the club has come in a short space of time’.
Work has been on-going on the stand for the past two weeks, with first the framework for the new seats being installed.
This week saw the actual plastic seating start to go in, and the work has transformed the look of a ground that has been three-sided since the old east stand was knocked down in May, 2014.
That was to supposedly make way for a new stand, built with a £10.25m loan from the borough council but, as has been well documented, that didn’t happen.
Instead, a shell of a stand has been sitting half-finished since last summer.
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas, who took over the club from David Cardoza at the end of last November, said at the time that one of his priorities was sorting out the mess that was the east stand.
He insisted he wouldn’t be rushed into anything, but just four months later, the first part of the ‘phased development’ is well underway.
“It is great to see the claret seats going in, and that colour filling the terracing where for a long period of time now we have all been sitting and looking at an empty terrace,” said Mr Whiting.
“It is fantastic news, really positive, and is putting a smile on everybody’s face.
“This has been hanging over the club for a long while, the new owners have come in and and have moved positively and at a quick pace, and the seats going in now, just four or five months after the takeover, shows how far the club has come in a short space of time.”
The Cobblers are flying high at the top of Sky Bet League Two, and the ground has sold out for home fans on several occasions in recent months, with supporters keen to get behind Chris Wilder’s team.
With the seats going in, it means that for the final four home fixtures of the campaign, an extra 1,924 supporters will be able to get in, and Mr Whiting admits it has been a frustration that the stadium has been a three-sided one for so long.
“The sold-out sign has gone up on a few occasions, and more and more regularly as the weeks have ticked by and the team’s form has got better and better,” said Mr Whiting.
“While in one sense it has been great to have a full-house, there has always been that nagging issue that we have a stand that isn’t being utilised. Being able to put near on 2,000 seats in this stand, and to have them to use for the last four games of the season is fantastic.
“There is still work to be done to the stand, so it won’t be the finished product, but it is going to look fantastic.
“We have the ‘NTFC’ in white in the seats which is what the fans wanted and what they voted on, so it adds some real colour, and it feels like a fantastic, four-sided football stadium again.”
Asked if the stand would be ready for the fixture on April 2 against Notts County. Mr Whiting confirmed: “We are on track. We have always said it will be ready by the start of April for the last four home games, and we are on target to hit that. I had the latest safety advisory group meeting on Wednesday, and we are on full steam ahead to be open on time.”