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Portsmouth Football Club submitted plans to expand Fratton Park back in 2020 and slow progress has continued since, with the key focus of the Fratton Park redevelopment being the Milton End stand.
As well as increasing the capacity of this stand, rail seating has been installed in other areas of the ground, helping Portsmouth to maintain full capacity by improving their ability to meet safety regulations.
What is happening to Fratton Park?
Several periods of works have happened at Fratton Park over recent years, some merely to keep the ground open. With football first played at Fratton Park in 1899 and little upgrade to the infrastructure since Portsmouth's relegation from the Premier League in 2010, renovation was badly needed.
A few years ago, Portsmouth CEO Andrew Cullen said, the club had to install new cladding to meet fire regulations to avoid being “completely closed down.”
After this, in 2020, Portsmouth submitted plans to extend Fratton Park‘s Milton End stand, adding 400 seats and improved spectator facilities. There were also plans to extend the roof backwards, providing cover for spectators inside and outside the stadium and a new viewing area for disabled fans. All of this was required not just to improve the fan experience, but because the capacity was constantly being reduced due to safety regulations.
“It had reached a point where it was likely capacity would fall as low as 10,000,” said Cullen.
In June 2021, Portsmouth announced that the Fratton Park redevelopment would begin with an expected completion time of four seasons, at a cost of £10m.
Over the summer of 2023, seats in the Milton End were ripped out to make way for the renovation, which includes connecting this stand to the adjacent North Stand.
In September 2023, rail seating was successfully installed in the back ten rows of the Fratton End, allowing the club to apply for a safe-standing licence from the Sports Ground Safety Authority. This followed the previous installation of rail seats as part of the ongoing Milton End redevelopment.
What will the new capacity of Fratton Park be?
The Fratton Park redevelopment will take the stadium's capacity from 19,669 to above 20,000. But those numbers don't tell the full story. Portsmouth were preparing for their capacity to decline to around 10,000 due to safety regulations, had they not taken action.
History of Fratton Park
Fratton Park is more than 120 years old. It is the only professional English football ground not found on the mainland of Great Britain. Fratton Park is on Portsea Island, built in 1899 on the site of a market garden in Milton, a village on the island.
The ‘Fratton Park' name was used to link the ground to the nearby train station ‘Fratton'. In fact, the station and the ground weren't that close, but it encouraged supporters to attend.
Fratton Park's peak came in the 1930s when, following two stand reconstructions, the capacity reached 58,000. This was reduced to 52,000 after safety regulations introduced following the Burnden Park disaster (1946) at Bolton Wanderers.
The Portsmouth stadium was a host stadium for the 1948 London Olympics, and in the following season, Portsmouth won the Division One title and set a stadium record, with 51,385 watching their FA Cup sixth-round match against Derby County.
Are there plans for another Fratton Park redevelopment?
Well, not specific plans, but yes. Portsmouth's Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cullen says internally the south coast club have discussed expanding Fratton Park's capacity to 30,000. That's clearly a long way off, but the ambition is there.
If Portsmouth can haul themselves out of League One into the Championship, those ambitious plans might become closer to reality.
Portsmouth CEO Andrew Cullen says the club has talked about increasing the capacity of Fratton Park to “as high as 30,000” one day.
“The next stage will be to look at other development options,” he said to Business Mag.
“If we can create the demand through the club progressing through the leagues or by more seats being sold – we can start to consider the next stage of development. That would begin with a much bigger North Stand, meaning a capacity of over 25,000. Depending on different models, it could be as high as 30,000.”
Stands at Fratton Park
South Stand at Fratton Park
The main stand at Fratton Park is the South Stand which houses the dressing rooms and Director's Box, and home supporters. It has a 4,856 capacity.
North Stand at Fratton Park
The North Stand is opposite the main stand, also along the touchline. It hosts home fans, with a huge 8,147 capacity over two tiers.
Milton End at Fratton Park
The Milton End is currently undergoing huge reconstruction and renovation. It was opened in 1905 and is behind the east goal. Home and away fans sit here, with a 3,196 capacity.
Fratton End at Fratton Park
The Fratton End is where Portsmouth's most vociferous home supporters can be found. The 4,700-capacity stand is behind the west goal and was opened in October 1997.