Emley AFC are planning an upgrade to the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground – and have acquired 300 seats from the John Smith’s Stadium.

The work will cost up to £15,000 and fans are being asked to sponsor a seat for £50. Sponsors will get their name on a ‘wall of fame.’ The club is also seeking grant funding.

The club was able to secure the surplus seats with help from club president Andy Hobson, who is also on the board of Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd, which owns the John Smith’s Stadium.

Emley chairman Andrew Painten said the stand was looking tired and the 300 white seats would give the whole ground a lift.

“As you walk in everything looks great, and then you look at the seats in the stand and they are a bit old, a bit tired, and a bit of a hotchpotch of colours,” he said.

“They’ve all been acquired from different places over the years so it’s been on our wish list to sort out for a good while.

“The stand was built in the mid to late 80s and not had a lot done to it apart from a lick of paint here and there since then.

Club chairman Andrew Painten (left) with Andy Hobson (centre) and Marcus Pound

“We were on the lookout on how to get these seats sorted as it is a massive expense. We were asking around and we got in touch through a player’s dad for one of our academy teams who was working at the John Smith’s Stadium and we asked him if there were any seats going spare.

“The answer was yes, so we were trying to twist their arm to let us have them. It was really fortuitous that around the same time we had our new president join us, Andy Hobson from Fantastic Media who is also involved in the board at the stadium, and he was able to make a couple of calls. A day later we suddenly had 300 white plastic seats made available to us!

“Now that sounds like great news but there is good news and bad news. The good news is you’ve got a lot of seats but the bad news is you need loads of metal and people to install these seats so we do have a significant cost to actually put these seats in.

“We don’t want to let them just fester under our stand rather than at the John Smith’s Stadium so we launched a fundraiser to sell sponsorship.

“Sponsorship costs £50 for each seat, so anyone who contributes will be warmly welcomed and gratefully received, and they’ll get their name in lights on a wall of fame in the stand to thank them for their contribution.” 

Painten has already sponsored a number of seats in memory of his late father who took him to Emley as a youngster. 

“My dad took me to matches from the age of 11. We had great times watching Emley and I would always go with him. He’s greatly missed so it’s nice I can recognise him through this little gesture. It’s great to get this project off the ground.”

Painten added: “If we brought in a company to do all the work from scratch you are looking at £25,000 but due to us coming to this agreement with the John Smith’s Stadium that cost has been reduced.

“We’re always trying to improve, and over the last two or three years, certainly we’ve improved lots of aspects of the ground to make it more welcoming and made it more disability friendly.”