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Feb 21, 2013

Stoke delay decision over stadium

Stoke are to delay a decision on increasing the capacity of the Britannia Stadium by a further 1,780 seats in the 'scoreboard corner' - the one between the south and east stands - until the future.

The club have obtained outline planning permission, but they will not give the green light for the project until they are convinced the backing which has made the Potteries a difficult place for Premier League teams to visit in recent years is still in place for next term.

"We still haven't made a final decision - and that is for a variety of reasons," said Stoke chairman Peter Coates. "But attendances are one of the things that are considered.

"We have been very pleased that attendances here have held up and we want to continue to grow our support. We feel there is the opportunity for that to happen."

Stoke will assess demand for 2013-14 before making their minds up, 'early-bird' season tickets having gone on sale this week. The club are optimistic of matching the 21,000 sales and have frozen admission prices at the level they have been since 2008.

Manager Tony Pulis has repeatedly spoken in the last few months of the pressure he felt to make sure the club did not go down this season, of all seasons, because of the greater riches on offer with the Premier League's £5bn TV rights deal that will make an impact from next season.

And Coates has admitted that the impending deal made it easier to keep prices low for fans who have been widely praised in recent years for the level and volume of their support.

"We want to continue to have affordable football here," Coates added. "Considering the very difficult economic climate in the country, attendances have held up well. We have also worked hard on encouraging younger supporters and it is very satisfying to see so many want to support their local club."

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