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  12th May, 2008
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Rams as big as Chelsea?

Derby County fans are celebrating the club's plans to raise the capacity at Pride Park Stadium beyond even that of Premiership billionaires Chelsea.

Chairman Peter Gadsby yesterday outlined a proposal to up the amount of seats at the Rams' home ground from 33,597 to 44,000.

That figure would see Pride Park pass a host of Premiership grounds - including Stamford Bridge, which holds 42,294.

Derby, promoted to the Premiership through the Championship play-offs, have sold a record 23,500 season tickets for next season.

And fans have welcomed the idea to add seats for the 2008-09 season.

"I think it's great news that the capacity at Pride Park Stadium is to be increased," said Nick Ganly, of Heage.

"Hopefully, we will see more full houses at Derby and there will be more tickets available on general sale for games against the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea."

Cornwall-based Rams fan Steve Caddy has also welcomed the decision.

"It's great that Pride Park Stadium is to have an increased capacity," he said. "You must always think like a big club to become one."

Pav Gill, of Littleover, thinks the increase in capacity could mean that Pride Park could host more internationals.

"It's a fantastic idea and will give us more opportunities to host internationals as well as domestic events.

"Derby is a football city and it is great to see both the city and club become more prosperous and attractive to live in.

"The demand for tickets has never been higher and the extra revenue will continue to help with the club's progression."

Work would be carried out at the end of next season and would take up to four months to complete.

It is understood the proposal is dependent on the Rams remaining in the Premiership. Gadsby was on the Derby board, chaired by Lionel Pickering, when Pride Park was built in 1996.

The stadium was planned with the possibility of further expansion accounted for. The single-tier North, South and East Stands can be built on to become level with the two-tier West Stand.

Jonathan Guest, Derby City Council's corporate director for regeneration and community, confirmed that he had discussed possible expansion with Gadsby even when the stadium was being built.

"It's not a complete surprise to us that Derby County want to do this," said Guest.

"I think, when you plan anything like this, you are looking at what might happen in the future and, obviously, the club have aspirations.

"They don't have planning permission for this and they would need to make an application but I would guess that we would need to talk to them more about issues like traffic management than about the actual structure.

"Personally, I wouldn't think the aesthetic aspect of expanding the stadium would be a problem."

Derby are expected to release full details of the proposal later this week.

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