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."
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
Looking ahead to Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Harlequins (kick off 3pm), Head Coach Laurie Fisher told the local media that Gloucester will need to be on top of their game in a match which has big implications in terms of top six ambitions.
A big few days for the Gloucester-Hartpury Women side. First came the news that the team will compete in Women's Super Rugby next season, and on Saturday the team will play Worcester Ladies IIs at Kingsholm. Centre Hannah Jones and wing Michelle Ruddock spoke to GRTV this week to reflect on events.
Missing so many starters, and up against a team fighting for their Premiership existence, Gloucester did what had to be done at Ashton Gate on Friday evening battling their way to a 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol Rugby.