It’s felt like a long summer this year for lots of reasons, but we have been working hard behind the scenes at Woodside to prepare for our return to the Crucial Environmental Stadium. We have ambitious plans to improve our match day experience for our supporters and visitors and have faced some significant and unforeseeable challenges – not least the pandemic!

The impact of Covid and the Lockdown has hit us on all levels, from the crushing disappointment of having our season expunged, to having to close Woodside and furlough staff, to our contractors being unable to come onto our site to carry out works, the uncertainty of whether we would have to play behind closed doors and now the restrictions on numbers of spectators, yet having to introduce special ‘Covid Controls’ to allow people in to spectate.

So, how are we doing? We are delighted to confirm that the works for which we had the fantastic fundraising effort with the Future’s Bright Crowd funder page, plus the Football Foundation Grant are looking good. As you can see from these photos!

We may not have been promoted last season, but our ground is ready for us to progress! We have transformed the ‘North East Corner’ of the ground, with a new turnstile entrance, new men’s, women’s and accessible toilets, a new catering unit and a level access through to the North Stand.

The old floodlights have been taken down and the new ones are in place. These are all LEDs and provide the light quality required not only for games in our current league, but also the next step up!

Our final part of this year’s huge schedule of ground improvements is the replacement of the pitch. With all the history this was never going to be an easy fix. We have dealt with a number of complex legal, financial and operational matters to ensure we get a positive outcome. These discussions were protracted and we have had to spill over into the start of the season before works to replace the pitch can start. This is why we are having to reverse fixtures and play at Horsham for the first team and other venues for the Women’s and Youth Teams. It’s a big thank you to the Team Managers, staff and match organisers who are having to be pretty creative to ensure that training venues are found, matches go ahead and players can get safely to matches. We are very grateful to the League for helping with this process, the venues involved and particularly to Horsham for being such great hosts for us.

In respect of the pitch, we’ve finally got to the point where, following approval, this week, of a substantial Football Foundation grant, the Club will be confirming a timetable of works very soon. We are in the process of signing contracts and scheduling the work with our new contractors. Throughout the challenges we have remained absolutely focussed on ensuring things were put right. To help with this, we have received fantastic support from the FA, the league and the Football Foundation, to whom we are incredibly grateful.

We also recognise how patient our supporters have been, especially now with the extra travelling and again want to express just how appreciative we are of their support.

We know there’s been lots of rumours and speculation about when and what will be happening, but it is pure speculation. Please be assured that as soon as we can share factual information about the works schedule we will post another update.