Khaled El-Ahmad: Barnsley FC's West Stand not closed due to financial motivations

BARNSLEY chief executive officer Khaled El-Ahmad has dismissed suggestions that the decision to close the West Stand at Oakwell is financially motivated and insists it has been made purely made on safety grounds.

West Stand, Oakwell.

The West Stand will be empty - minus members of the media - for the first game since Barnsley’s decision to close it due to safety concerns in Sunday's home derby with Sheffield United.

The move has affected 1,000 season-ticket holders. A number have relocated to other parts of Oakwell, but some have asked for refunds. The club have pledged that seats will be reserved in fans’ names if a decision is made to reopen, which remains the plan. There is no specific time-scale.

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The closure of the West Stand is the second ground issue to impact upon Barnsley in 2021-22.

At the start of the season, the club elected to reduce the capacity in the North Stand for visiting supporters to just over 2,000 due to ongoing issues surrounding the recruitment of matchday stewards.

But the issue has subsequently been resolved ahead of tomorrow's fixture, with Sheffield United handed an allocation of 4,733 for the derby - after initially being given 2,038 tickets.

El-Ahmad said: "Financially, by relocating 1,000 people (Barnsley fans) and 'x' amount of people wanting a refund, we are also losing money.

"How many games have we had sold out? We have not been allowed to bring in more (away fans until now).

"Even though you are allowed to bring in more (away fans) and make a bit more money on Sheffield, over the course of the season keeping the West Stand closed is not financially positive. It is nothing to do with money (decision to close).

"It is just timing with the Sheffield United game, If a different club came with 800 fans, no-one would say anything. The decision was made before."

On the decision to close the West Stand earlier this month at short notice, El-Ahmad said: "I apologise if they feel we have not communicated correctly. I will take the heat and do apologise from my perspective as CEO and the club if people felt that we treated them badly, but it all comes from a genuine good place.

"It is not a power play and we are not trying to put one party in a difficult situation. It was made on safety and operational and a decision had to be made on where we are."