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Maidstone United's £750,000 North Stand opens on Tuesday night

By Craig Tucker

A grim night in Weston provided the unlikely inspiration for Maidstone’s new North Stand.

The £750,000 terrace, housing 1,768 fans, will be used for the first time when United face Sutton at the Gallagher on Tuesday night.

It’s taken just over two months to build and raises capacity to 4,200.

Scroll down for Kian Bryen's drone footage

Maidstone co-owner Terry Casey in the new stand Picture: Andy Payton

There were cheaper options but co-owners Terry Casey and Oliver Ash wanted to give supporters a stand to be proud of.

Mr Casey said: “It is quite an achievement and each time I’ve walked around it, I’ve thought how imposing it is and how impressive it is. It just enhances the whole stadium.

“We had other options but I think what we’re building here is something that’s going to last.

“Everything we do here is for longevity where we can see three/five years ahead and there’s nothing we’ve done that we would want to rip out or take down.

“We’d seen this stand down at Weston-super-Mare on a wet Tuesday evening.

Maidstone's new stand opens tomorrow Picture: Andy Payton

“It was the feature of the whole ground and we just wanted to know who’d built it.

“We did a bit of research, they came up with some drawings, which made it quite irresistible really.

“It wasn’t the cheapest option, not by a long way, and, in fact, it was probably one of the most expensive options but it was something we wanted to look at for 20 years.

“It’s come at a cost and one of the things is we can’t afford to develop the underneath yet.

“That’s a bit of an issue because that would have come in at another £150-000 to £200,000 and we just didn’t have that sort of money left in the budget.”

The new stand at the Gallagher offers great views Picture: Andy Payton

The concourse will be developed in time, with United looking at new changing rooms and academy classrooms.

Mr Casey says the playing budget has suffered because of the latest round of building works and has praised the work of manager Jay Saunders as United try to survive their first season in the National League.

He said: “The biggest impact of the whole lot is we haven’t been able to put money into the playing budget.

“It’s that juggling that’s really difficult so to get that balance right where you build the infrastructure, which is so crucial to the way we’ve done everything, and just try and get enough money on the pitch so that we survive.

“I’m not sure whether we’ve put enough money on the pitch to survive but I think we’ve done fantastically well because nobody really expected the level of competition to be the way it is.

Maidstone co-owner Terry Casey Picture: Andy Payton

“You just have to look at Lincoln and Sutton playing Arsenal in the last couple of rounds of the FA Cup.

“These are very serious full-time professional sides we’re playing against.

“We could have done with another year in the South and then built but we didn’t have that sort of luxury.

“We’re delighted to be at this level but it’s come at a cost in all departments.

“Jay’s been put under pressure because he hasn’t had the budget that all other clubs have got in this league - but I still wouldn’t do anything differently.”

Mr Casey has resisted calls to increase the playing budget - but not from Saunders!

The new North Stand at the Gallagher Stadium Picture: Andy Payton

He said: “My wife, Rose, has said ‘give Jay some more money, I hate losing, I hate drawing’ but it would be so easy to give the money to Carlos Kickaball and then you never see them again.

“Bill Williams (chief executive) doesn’t put me under pressure and Jay doesn’t.

“Jay’s run businesses in the past himself and he knows the pressure on the pound.

“He works with what he’s got and I think he’s done absolutely magnificently with the budget he’s got.”

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