PLANNING chiefs kept their red cards firmly in their top pockets and unanimously backed Poole Town FC’s latest stadium proposals yesterday.

The Dolphins have only nine weeks to get their ground up to National South status, or face the daunting prospect of dropping back down to the Southern League - just months after their historic promotion.

The club was only allowed to compete in National South on the proviso their Tatnam ground can meet National League ground-grading criteria before March 31.

Borough of Poole’s (BOP) planning committee was asked to back proposals, outlined at a civic centre meeting, to install new low-level terracing and upgraded floodlighting at Tatnam. The overall cost of the ground improvements is likely to be around £150,000.

Speaking to the Daily Echo afterwards, Poole Town FC’s vice chairman Chris Reeves said: “Obviously I am delighted with this decision.

“I fully anticipated it, as we have reached an agreement with the school and there were no objections. Also we’ve had a lot of support from the planning committee in the past.

“But although you expect it, you can never be sure. To say this is all happening in the nick of time is an understatement.”

Capacity at the ground, which borders the end of school fields associated with Oakdale Junior School, will not be increased by the terracing, councillors were told earlier.

Mr Reeves said: “Contractors are already at the ground doing the work granted by the previous planning permission.

“The design work for the terracing units has all been done and is complete.

“Manufacturing of the terracing units, if it doesn’t start on Friday, it will on Monday - it is all systems go.”

Poole Town FC now has permission to construct tiered open terraces for standing spectators on the north and west sides of the pitch.

Similar terraces will be installed inside the existing north stand, and a floodlight will now be moved 14 metres closer to the pitch.

On the financing of the improvements, Mr Reeves said: “Well we cannot relax, but we have a real confidence that we are going to be fine now, a real confidence.”

Businessman Steve Griffiths, who owns Portman Stone, has pledged £40,000 towards the upgrades.