The Year Ahead: Exeter City
A year is a long time in football, and much could happen at Exeter City in 2010.
1)What league? Return of Devon Derby?
First, and perhaps foremost, is the question of whether the Grecians will avoid relegation from League 1. Paul Tisdale`s side currently sit in 18th place, two points clear of the relegation zone. However, the odds our in City`s favour. January looks a tricky month on paper, and if the Grecians can navigate it relatively well, it will set them up for a more comfortable looking set of fixtures in the run in. Remember, Paul Tisdale is a master of successful second half of the season`s, and a very few teams have complete the double over Tisdale`s Exeter team.
Looking ahead, many City fans will yearn for the return on the 'Devon Derby`. City haven`t met fierce rivals Plymouth Argyle since 2002, but there is a fair chance the two teams will meet next season. City have to stay up, and Argyle have to be relegated from the Championship. Let`s hope the Grecians don`t end playing the other league team in Devon in a league fixture next season.
There has been much discussion over the plans for Exeter`s St. James Park ground. Close to the end of last season, the board released a statement which spelled out ambitions for the redevelopment of the ground. Since then, there has been a lack of news.
Without setting a timescale, the pitch is likely to be moved closer to the Doble Stand, and to the Big Bank. This will have a number of benefits. Firstly, bringing the fans close to the pitch on two sides will help foster a better atmosphere. Secondly, it will provide added space to redevelop the tricky Old Grandstand side of the ground. The lifecycle of the Old Grandstand is almost over. Even for next season, it is far from certain that it will be granted a safety certificate, thereby forcing it out of action. The new stand is likely to all-seated, but the severe lack of space is a major problem. Whether the stand will be able to span the whole length of the pitch unlike the current stand is debatable. Some creative engineering will be required!
The other major development concerns the away end. As it stands, the away end facilities are poor for League 1. It is a small uncovered terrace. The movement of the pitch will create more room here. As small covered terrace reminiscent of Torquay`s away stand may suffice, or a small seated stand could be erected. An unlikely option could be a two-tired affair like Brentford have, with terracing on the bottom. There has also been talk of a coalition with student accommodation of some type. Something akin to Leyton Orient isn`t out of the question, but at the same time unlikely.
This is all speculation, and it must also be remembered that the Council owns the ground. Finance is perhaps the biggest issue. Nevertheless, the redevelopment of St. James Park is an exciting time for the club.
3)Will Tisdale remain at Exeter?
Paul Tisdale has so far remained loyal to Exeter City, and very much sees it as a project.
His achievements with the Grecians haven`t gone unnoticed, and he has previously been linked with jobs at Reading and Southampton amongst others.