South West Wales

Swansea City plans Liberty Stadium expansion

Swansea v Chelsea at Liberty Stadium
Image caption The Liberty Stadium currently has a capacity of around 20,500

Swansea City FC is planning to expand the capacity of the Liberty Stadium to cater for the huge demand for Premier League football.

The proposals are expected to be put forward to Swansea council early next year and work could start before next season.

The club said up to 12,000 seats in total could be added to three stands, taking the capacity to around 32,500.

The move would allow the Swans to significantly increase revenue.

However, chairman Huw Jenkins has also stressed how important it would be to maintain Premier League football.

That would not appear to be a problem currently with Swansea seventh in the Premier League, above big names such as Liverpool and Arsenal.

The Swans are selling out every match at the 20,500-seat Liberty Stadium, which is also the home of the Ospreys regional rugby team.

Phil Sumbler, chairman of Swansea City Supporters' Trust, welcomed the plan and said it would create more revenue which would allow the club to build on its current success.

"Since we moved into the Premier League, the ground is pretty much a sell out to home supporters every single game we've played," he said.

"If we can make more room in there for Swansea supporters, that's a good thing."

He said a glance at the supporters' message boards suggested the demand was there because many fans appeared unable to get tickets.

"It's a brilliant feeling if you can afford to go every week and can afford a season ticket but not everyone can afford it or has the time to go every week," he said.

"For games that don't quite sell out, it would give the club a great opportunity to look at local schools and appeal to a younger generation."

Although the stadium is run by Swansea Stadium Management Company - a partnership of the Swans, Ospreys and Swansea council - the expansion would be funded by Swansea City.

The club has sold 16,500 season ticket holders for both seasons in the Premier League and there is now a waiting list.

A survey is being carried out with the help of the supporters' trust to gauge demand.

Piecemeal approach

It would be possible to add around 6,000 seats to the east stand and some 3,000 each to the north and south stands behind the goals.

The club would have the option of extending all three stands together, or taking a more piecemeal approach by starting with the east stand.

It is understood an application for planning permission could be put to the council as early as February, with work possibly starting in the close season.

Councillor Nick Bradley, Swansea council's cabinet member for regeneration, said the council welcomed the news the club was looking to expand.

"The Swans' Premier League status hasn't just been great news for the football club, it's been great news for Swansea Bay as a destination too," he said.

"The Premier League is the best football league in the world that enjoys an audience of many millions of people across the world. This means Swansea's profile has been considerably raised and many people will have heard about Swansea for the very first time.

"Visiting fans have been coming to Swansea in their thousands since the Swans were promoted to the Premier League. Many of them have been spending several nights in the local area which helps boost our local economy.

"The Premier League offers a level of exposure you just can't buy because the team is competing against some of the world's biggest teams like Manchester United and Chelsea."

The expansion would raise significant extra funds for the Swans, although the riches of the Premier League are already delivering a financial boost.

The club said last month it was poised to make a Premier League debut-season profit of £14.6m.

However, £5m of the income for 2011/12 came from compensation from Liverpool for manager Brendan Rodgers and his assistants, who left for Anfield.

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