BY CALUM FRASER
Dozens of fans are outraged as football chiefs plan to move them out of season ticket seats that some have held for decades.
Crystal Palace bosses have given the go-ahead to plans to clear a section of Selhurst Park to concentrate a group of fans known as the Holmesdale Fanatics (HF) in a bid to create a “central singing section”.
But this means that scores of season ticket holders, many of whom have held their seats since the Holmesdale Stand was built in 1995, will have to be dispersed around the stadium.
Stephen Kingdom, 48, a Selhurst Park regular since 1984, said: “I think we are all in shock that the club can treat long-term loyal fans in this way, especially when in September they put out a statement explaining why this would be the wrong thing to do.
“The club have clearly been considering this move for a long time, but at no time have they consulted with affected fans.
It really feels like – now we’re in the Premier League – we don’t matter to the club anymore.”
The HF were negotiating with the club chiefs over the summer to make room for their singing section. The HF want to be moved from a corner of the stand, block B, to the centre behind the goals, block E.
But the club released a statement on September 2 saying they would not follow through with the plans because they felt “it would be hugely unfair and disruptive”.
Another statement was then released on September 26 reversing this decision. Up to 400 season tickets were pledged to the HF starting next year.
Mr Kingdom, who works in the charity sector, said: “The club’s U-turn makes it feel like this is a panicky decision; and it certainly doesn’t seem thought through.
It’s clear, for example, that the club haven’t thought about the impact on fans whose seats are near the proposed new singing section.”
The fans who will lose their seats will be offered a discounted price on different season tickets. The fans are not happy with this because they will be at the back of the queue for season tickets as other supporters will be given the chance to renew their tickets first.
According to club figures 92 per cent of season ticket holders renew their seat every year.
One aggrieved fan, who has been attending games for almost 40 years, said: “We’ve been through all the highs and lows with the club.
That often means more lows than highs with Palace, but we have always been there.
“Suddenly we’re being thrown out of our seats and told, well you have to scrabble around for what are probably going to be the worst seats in the stadium.”
Mr Kingdom is part of a small group of fans which met part-owner and chairman Steve Parish on Wednesday night.
He said: “I’m pleased that Steve Parish has finally offered to meet some of us. I will, of course, listen to what he has to say.
But it really is at least a year too late. And I and a handful of others can’t represent all 400 affected fans: he really needs to engage with all of us.”
A spokesman for Crystal Palace said: “There is overwhelming support among our fans for the creation of a new, expanded singing section in the central block of the Holmesdale Road stand, creating a wall of sound that we believe will create a unique Premier League atmosphere at Selhurst Park.
“We are working with season ticket holders in Block E, who, regrettably, will have to be relocated next season, to ensure we make this as painless as possible.
“We understand the upheaval this will inevitably cause some season ticket holders, and the chairman will be meeting a group of those affected in the coming weeks to discuss arrangements.”
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