SWINDON Town faces restrictions on the capacity of the Don Rogers Stand on Saturday if a faulty public address system is not repaired by kick-off.
On the opening game of the season against Scunthorpe on August 9, the system was not working meaning safety messages could not be relayed to the crowd.
The club have told Swindon Council they will have it repaired before the next home game against Crewe on Saturday, but the Adver understands the whole sound system at the County Ground will need replacing, which could cost up to £28,000.
However, if they are unable to fix the system in the 4,800 capacity Don Rogers stand by Saturday, they may have to agree a contingency plan with the council, which could involve cutting the number of people allowed there.
For the contingency plan to be satisfactory, the club need to be able to show they can get warnings to the crowd efficiently.
Not having a working system in place does not necessarily constitute a breach of the safety requirements if it breaks shortly before a match. But the club should discuss the implications with the most senior police officer and the referee to decide whether to continue, postpone or abandon the game. The club also has a legal duty to inform the council as soon as possible, which the council says it failed to do straightaway.
Instead, the council found out last week when it was contacted by a member of the public.
The council’s public safety team then wrote to the club who gave assurances ahead of the next game at the County Ground.
A spokesman for the council said: “We contacted the club once we were made aware that the public address system in the Don Rogers stand wasn’t working properly.
“The club is required to let us know if there is any change to the safety measures at the ground as outlined in their Safety Certificate, and this would include a failure of the public address system.”
There are no plans to carry out any formal inspections to ensure the public address system is working but if the game goes ahead without it being fixed, sanctions could be imposed afterwards and if it is not satisfied about crowd safety, the council has the power to close the stand.
Roger Bunce, chairman of the supporters club, which in the past has donated money to repair the sound system, said: “Everyone goes to enjoy the game but obviously safety is the most important thing.
“Hopefully, the cost won’t be too much of a factor so they can get it fixed and fans with season tickets won’t have to be moved to other stands.”
Swindon Town declined to comment about the public address system, the cost of repair or the repair timescale when approached by the Adver yesterday.