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We need 2,000 at each game to stay at Parade, chairman warns Exiles fans

South Wales Argus: IN THE HOT SEAT: County chairman Chris Blight IN THE HOT SEAT: County chairman Chris Blight

Newport County chairman Chris Blight has warned fans that they must support the move to Rodney Parade or the club will be forced to return to Spytty Park.

Speaking at a fans’ meeting in the plush Bisley Suite at the Parade, Blight said that if crowds did not rise to an average of 2,000 for the coming season he would have no option but to take the club back to their much-maligned former home.

“If people don’t come here and spend their money here at the turnstiles and at the bar then we will be going back to Spytty,” said Blight. “This is a trial time for all of us and if it doesn’t work out we won’t be able to stay here.

“We had 12,000 people watching us at Wembley and we’d be delighted if a fifth of those stayed with us.

“We need crowds of 2,000 to make this work. That is the figure on which we based the model we have agreed with the Dragons and Newport Rugby Club.

“That is what we need to help us maintain the revenue streams required to keep us here and if it’s not met then we’ll have to move back.”

Blight added that the average crowd for last season at Spytty was 1,358 and that the income from the FA Trophy final at Wembley had made up for a big shortfall in the budget during the 2011/12 campaign.

“We budgeted for an average crowd of 1,900 last season and the fact that it was 1,358 cost us,” he explained.

“Sadly, due to a number of factors under our previous manager, we failed to produce the goods on the field and the crowds dwindled.

“If it hadn’t been for Wembley the shortfall would have been much worse,” he added.

“Spytty Park is no longer capable of generating the income we need.

“The facilities at Rodney Parade are so much better and we hope that the fans will use them and enjoy watching Newport County here.”

In response to fans’ questions Blight revealed that County would receive a “single-figure percentage” of bar takings and that Bar Amber would be based at the current Snelling Bar at the ground.

New general manager Steve Dance said that the rent the Exiles have agreed is equivalent to what they were paying at Spytty and that the move would enable the club to add extra revenue from hospitality, advertising and food outlets.

Blight also brushed aside fears that there would be problems fitting in the fixtures for County, the Dragons and Newport RFC at Rodney Parade.

“I don’t think it will be a big problem,” said the chairman. “The Dragons play mostly on Friday nights and Sundays and Newport have maybe 11 home Saturday games.

“That leaves plenty of Saturdays free for us.”

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