GLOUCESTER RUGBY chairman Tom Walkinshaw, having taken into consideration the concerns of the supporters and significant difficulties associated with the construction of the temporary stand, has announced the Grandstand development at Kingsholm will now start in March 2007 and be completed for the 2007/8 season.
"Some of our most loyal supporters contacted us and said they were concerned that the plans to put a temporary stand up would deprive them of their favourite watching place for the year, especially on the terracing, so we have taken that on board," said club chairman Tom Walkinshaw.
"We are still determined that the re-development will go ahead. There are a lot of people in Gloucester who want things to happen and a lot who don't want any change. I'm afraid if they want a top-flight rugby club then there has to be change, which means we have to get bigger and better facilities."
The new Grandstand project will now start in March 2007, and still be ready for the start of the 2007/8 season and will increase Kingsholm's capacity from 12,500 to 17,500.
This means that the demolition of the Grandstand, scheduled for next Monday (July 10), will now not happen until the end of the 2006/7 season.
"We aren't touching it for the moment," Walkinshaw added. "We're going to do the full development, but from March so that we can get the job done. If you want a bigger grandstand there has to be a bit of pain somewhere. You cannot do it in the close season because it's too big a job.
"So you either eat into part of this season or part of the following season. We were going to start work on it and it would have been finished by February or March, which meant putting in temporary seats in place of the grandstand seats that are there now but you would have lost all the terracing in front of the grandstand, so you would be reducing the overall capacity by more than 1200 people.
"We were prepared to do that to get on with the work, but once we got the feedback we looked into whether we could do it any other way. We've worked with the contractors and they've said if they can get access to the site in March then, by prefabricating a lot of the steel work so that it's on site and ready to go, they could finish it by the end of August and be ready for the start of the following season.
"With the team doing so well last year, the feedback is that people would like to try and keep things the same for as long as we can, so March it is. At the end of the day if we want a new grandstand, then we need a certain amount of time to build it and that means there will be inconvenience and compromise - it's just a case of what that compromise is.
"This one now seems to address most of the issues of the people who contacted us. We need a new stadium and the capacity raised to keep us in line with the top teams in the league and that's all there is to it. At the moment 17,500 will be the biggest exclusively rugby stadium in the country and once it's full we can look at the next thing.
"We just have to do something at Kingsholm now to react to the demand from the spectators who want to see the games."
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.