Gillingham’s infamous away end could soon be a thing of the past.
Half of the uncovered Town End at Priestfield Stadium is currently closed off due to damaged flooring after years of exposure to the elements. The club are now considering what to do with the much-criticised stand.
The original Town End terrace was demolished prior to the 2003/04 season - in line with all-seater regulations when the club were in the the second tier - with plans to replace it with a £1.5m, 3,200-seater covered stand, to be named in honour of former director and commentator Brian Moore.
Funding issues meant a temporary stand was erected instead as the club spent what money that had on pitch improvements. The “scaffold stand" - still named by the club after their legendary supporter Brian Moore - has been there ever since.
It’s been ridiculed by opposing fans who have had to watch games in all weathers. A drop in home attendances in recent seasons has at least meant those travelling to Gillingham have been given the chance to sit in the covered Gordon Road Stand.
New owner Brad Galinson knows the stadium needs some TLC and chief operating officer Paul Fisher understands that end of the stadium needs addressing.
Mr Fisher was asked what plans were in place for the 'Town End'.
He said: “We need to do some work on that, we had to do some work to get it ready for the Leicester (FA Cup) game, which we did, it meant taking some of the bits from the top half down to the bottom half.
“We probably need a plan for it come the summer, in an ideal world we would take it down and build something with a roof on it.”
New owner Mr Galinson has long list of tasks. Avoiding relegation from League 2 is the first. Both he and Mr Fisher are happy to stay at Priestfield for now but both accept a move could eventually be on the cards if progress up the league goes as planned.
Mr Galinson said: “I think in the short-term Priestfield needs a bit of TLC.
“As the team gets more success, a promotion or two, it is quite viable and something we want to look at and it is good problem to have that we would probably want to upgrade to a new stadium, but in the community though.
“I think that is a natural progression as you get up leagues but now we are fighting to stay in the Football League so it is hard to realistically say, ‘oh, when we reach the Championship do we want a new stadium?’ It’s a great problems to have - in the future.”
Mr Fisher said: “It would be a nice problem to have when we start filling this place. Let’s start to fill Priestfield and then I think we can start to worry about a new stadium.
“I think some of that new stadium concept over the last few years have been a bit too much of a diversion for Paul (Scally) and the club.
“In the short and medium term I think Priestfield has the facilities, let’s start filling this place again.
“We get the directors down from some of the teams we play now, you show them around before a game and they can’t believe it, okay, it needs a bit of TLC in some of the areas and a bit of modernisation but the facilities here were built when we were in the Championship.”
Moving from Priestfield Stadium were always an ambition for previous owner Mr Scally, with Mill Hill - an area of land across the road from Gillingham’s Beechings Way training ground - the last potential site targeted by the club. The Gills previously looked at building a new stadium at Temple Marsh in Cuxton, Chatham Docks and even considered uprooting to Gravesham.