Barrow AFC have moved to clarify the details surrounding the current ground capacity issues reportedly facing the club as they prepare for their upcoming pre-season fixtures.

The (North-West Evening) Mail had reported today that ‘issues with a lack of certification for various electrical systems (at Barrow’s Holker Street ground), combined with safety concerns over weeds on the terraces and boarding around a floodlight pylon have seen Cumbria County Council’s safety advisory group (SAG) impose a zero S-factor safety rating – reducing capacity of the Brian Arrowsmith Stand and the Wilkie Terrace to nothing.’

In a statement posted on the club’s website, managing director Andrew Casson said the following:

‘Following the article in the Evening Mail this morning, we would like to emphasize our position on where the club stands in relation to these issues, and the work being done to resolve them.

Having received notice of the audit, the club worked quickly to schedule all of the required certification inspections with local companies.

Unfortunately, due to the well documented power failure at Holker Street, these certification inspections could not be completed and had to be postponed until the power was restored. We are glad to report that the work to restore power has now been completed ahead of our pre-season fixtures, and the necessary certification inspections have been either completed or re-scheduled as a matter of urgency.

The assessments on electrics, lifts, emergency lighting & PA systems will be complete by tomorrow (6th July), with repairs on any significant issues complete before the 10th July. The structural survey will be complete on Monday the 9th, following an unforeseen delay from the surveyor.

I was unable to attend the SAG meeting on the 22nd of June due to being called down to the National League offices in Birmingham that day. These issues were communicated to the council well in advance of the meeting and they communicated no issues about it to me. They proceeded to hold the meeting and in my absence, our Head Safety Officer Mike Forsyth and Deputy Safety Officer Tracy Clarke were present, both of whom have in depth knowledge of the safety features in and around the ground.

Following the meeting, the safety group set the capacity of the covered stands to 0 as a result of the delayed paperwork, weeds, two loose boards around the Wilkie floodlights and the determination that ‘management were unable to demonstrate a positive attitude to spectator safety.’

The club has been transparent, forthcoming and apologetic throughout this process regarding the documentation and the extenuating circumstances that meant everything could not be completed by the 22nd, and remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the process is completed as soon as possible.

However, we decided to make this issue public for two reasons:

– The first is to reassure our supporters that the ground is safe and that the Board consider your safety to be of the utmost importance whilst watching football at Holker Street.

– The second is to highlight what we believe to be unfair treatment of the club by a group that has given no flexibility in a process that last year took place in mid-July, well after our pre-season games.

We will continue to update you over the next couple of days and hope that you will enjoy the match against Carlisle on Tuesday in the Brian Arrowsmith Stand or on the Popular Side.’

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