Bristol Rovers to remain in Memorial Stadium


Bristol Rovers plans for a new stadiums are off the table Image: Memorial Stadium, Bristol, Linda Bailey, CC BY-SA 2.0

The League One team Bristol Rovers F.C. Co-Owner Hussain AlSaeed says the club’s proposed move to a new ground at the City’s Fruit Market site in Bristol (UK) is “off”.

‘BBC SPORT’ stated that the area, closer to the Bristol City Centre, had been mooted as a place to build a modern stadium.

The Bristol Rovers Football Club is a professional football club in Bristol, England (UK). They compete in League One, the third tier of the English football league system. The club’s official nickname is ‘The Pirates’, reflecting the maritime history of Bristol.

The 12,300-capacity Memorial Stadium, also commonly known by its previous name of the Memorial Ground, is a sport ground in Bristol, England (UK), and is the home of Bristol Rovers F.C.

The Bristol City Centre is the commercial, cultural and business centre of Bristol, England (UK).

‘BBC SPORT’ further stated that instead they will look to redevelop three sides of the ground at their current Memorial Stadium home.

The club are 13th in League One and without a Manager after Joey Barton left recently and Andy Mangan is the Caretaker Manager.

Bristol Rovers have been at the Memorial Stadium since 1996, initially sharing it with the Premiership Rugby team Bristol Bears before the rugby union club moved to the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol – home of the Rovers’ rivals the English Football League (EFL) Championship club Bristol City F.C. – in 2014.

For the 10 years before moving to the Memorial Stadium, Rovers had been at the 8,840-capacity Twerton Park in Bath after leaving their beloved now-demolished 39,400-capacity Eastville Stadium in Bristol.

The Fruit Market site, just outside Bristol City Centre and near to the Temple Meads Railway Station, has been mentioned as a possible new home for the club for a number of years.

But AlSaaed affirmed that any ground move has been ruled out.

‘The Pirates’ Going Nowhere

Said AlSaeed, “It has changed. It was on the table, but it wasn’t really completely on the table. That’s what we thought when we took over. After a meeting or two, we thought that a deal wasn’t really close. We tried to work with the developer, we tried to accommodate what they required. But we thought that was going nowhere so now we are going to concentrate on developing the Memorial Stadium, so we don’t have to leave it.”

The first plan is to complete work on the ground’s new 3,425-capacity South Stand before undertaking work on both the East and North Stands.

Once finished, the idea is that the ground’s capacity would be between 16-17,000, according to the owner.

Added AlSaaed, “The South Stand is taking a lot of our time, but hopefully we’re getting towards the end. I’d like to thank the supporters for their understanding with us over this and with the Council in order to speed up the approval for us. We’re getting closer and closer to finishing that. That’ll be the first target for us. Then we are going to continue to develop the Memorial Stadium. I would like the capacity to be 18,000 but it may be very difficult to go to that number. To be realistic, it will be somewhere between 16-17,000.”

Fresh Approach Needed

The Kuwaiti businessman AlSaaed, who became ‘The Pirates’ Co-Owner this Summer, has also spoken about the decision to part company with the club’s former Manager Barton.

He left the club after two and a half years following a 1-1 draw at home to their peer team Stevenage F.C., which left them 16th in the table.

Barton had presided over the club’s famous final-day promotion from League Two in 2022 and led them to 17th last season.

But AlSaaed believes a “fresh approach” is required to get the most out of an underachieving squad – “When we came this Summer, we invested, and we invested in players – 13 signings. For that budget, comparing to the other budgets in the league, we should be around the top eight, if not better. Basically, the results did not reflect what we’ve spent. We thought for our plans, our ideas, our vision, perhaps we could go to someone else that with a fresh approach can actually take this team further. But we have deep respect for Joey. We’ve worked with him for the last few months and he’s a top, top man. He will always have a place in our hearts, in this stadium and with these fans.”

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