City prepare to fill stadium gap

Norwich City could install extra seating in Carrow Road before the end of the season, it was revealed last night.

The Canaries confirmed they had begun talks over the possibility of putting seats in the Barclay Stand-Jarrold Stand corner, the only gap left in the stadium, overlooked by the Holiday Inn hotel.

City expanded capacity to more than 27,000 in the summer of 2010 by adding extra rows of seats in three stands, and further seating was added this year before the start of the Premier League season.

While the club’s long-term aim is to redevelop the ground to accommodate 35,000 fans, chief executive David McNally told a fans’ forum they were exploring the corner option.

“We would like to put some seats in the corner, but it’s not as straightforward as our other successful attempts to increase capacity in the last few seasons,” he said. “It is a lot more involved with other parties such as the hotel.

“We are in discussions about how we could do that and if we could we’d have them there for the next game, but it’s more likely to be in the spring.”

City have attracted gates of above 26,000 at all five Premier League home games and the visit of Arsenal on November 19 has already sold out. However, chairman Alan Bowkett rejected the suggestion of one fan that City should press ahead now with taking the ground up to a 35,000 capacity.

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Supporter Roger Smith said: “If you wait too long it will never be done. We have to strike while the iron is hot.”

But Bowkett argued that City should rebuild only after three consecutive years in the top flight, saying: “We have taken the view that the priority for the next few years is to establish ourselves in the Premier League. I would resign rather than risk the future of the club. Two and a half years ago you don’t know how close we came to not being here. I’m never ever going to do that again.”

He confirmed, however, that they had started talks on how to finance the project and were assessing issues such as population growth, rival attractions and the economic situation. They were confident they could fill 35,000 seats but it would mean having to redevelop the Geoffrey Watling City Stand, he said.

“It would require very sophisticated engineering to avoid knocking it down and we would probably not have the stand for a whole season. If we do that, a lot of people are not going to have a seat, including me,” said Bowkett.

City may also consider negotiating with the Premier League about not admitting visiting fans while rebuilding work is in progress.

Manager Paul Lambert, meanwhile, confirmed that the club’s new chief scout had been in place for some weeks, an appointment not previously announced.

Colin Jackson, who worked as a team analyst for City in League One and the Championship, preparing match reports on the opposition, has moved up to the post vacated by Ewan Chester, who moved to Birmingham City at the end of August.

Lambert also repeated his assertion that he must add new faces to his squad in the January transfer window to maintain the momentum generated by the Canaries’ bright start to the Premier League season, which has taken them into eighth place after 10 games, a view that found favour with the club’s top brass.

“When you hit January you must make sure you get lads in. After the euphoria of the first four or five months, a bit of a dip can kick in and we don’t want that to happen,” said Lambert.

“I think Blackpool did brilliantly to go to the wire last season but might have just lost a bit in January. We have to try to give the group a hand.”