WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats chief executive James Elston has defended his club’s plans to separate home and away fans for the Stobart Super League XVII derby against Castleford Tigers tomorrow, Friday.
Tigers’ chief executive Richard Wright has attacked Trinity’s decision to allocate much of the newly-covered North Stand to Wildcats supporters at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium but Elston has been quick to react.
A statement published on the Wildcats’ official website said: “The club apologises to any Tigers fans who misunderstood the best intentions of the Wildcats, which is to make tomorrow’s match as enjoyable as possible for both sets of supporters.
“The club are simply advising both sets of fans where they suggest people congregate on matchday to be together with their fellow supporters to enhance what is always a fantastic derby day atmosphere.
“With the new North Stand roof now complete and following comments from a large number of Wildcats supporters to make this an area where home fans can gather to harness their vocal support - similar to the Wheldon Road end at the PROBIZ Coliseum - the club wish to make this an area predominantly for home supporters.
“Castleford Tigers fans have been advised that they can stand in the North East corner of the stadium and the Eastern Terrace in order to similarly gather in their numbers to back their team.
“The North East corner of the stadium includes approximately a third of the newly covered North Stand.
“Any friends or family who support either club and wish to stand together to enjoy the game will be able to do so in any area of the stadium.”
Elston added: “The majority of Super League stadiums have distinct areas where home and away fans watch the game from and it adds to the atmosphere at those games.
“Such is the open nature of the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, fans have traditionally mixed which supporters have often commented dilutes the atmosphere somewhat.
“By suggesting separate areas in which both sets of supporters can gather, we feel this will enhance the atmosphere at the game which can only help this derby become a bigger and bigger occasion every single time it is played.
“This is not a special arrangement just for Castleford fans. This is the first game in which the North Stand has been complete and all away supporters from here on in will be advised that these are the areas in which we suggest they congregate.
“We want to attract more away supporters and improve their fan experience, and this is why we have given such a large area to the Castleford fans, a significant proportion of which is under the new North Stand roof which means they will be able to enjoy their day whatever the weather.
“Again, we’d like to apologise to any Castleford supporters who misunderstood the intentions of what we have suggested and look forward to seeing them here in their numbers on Friday night.”
Read tomorrow’s Wakefield Express for more build-up to the Wakefield Wildcats’ derby clash with Castleford Tigers.