As a condition of our promotion last season, we have to ensure we meet the minimum ground grading criteria for a Step 2 club in the National League (South). As a promoted club, we are given until March 31st of our first season to complete any necessary works.
Following an extensive period of consultation with the National League, the most significant work identified is to increase our ground capacity to a minimum of 3,000 people.
A detailed plan has been prepared by the club in consultation with the National League and its advisors. The works have now started so we wanted to explain these plans to ensure our supporters understand what is happening and why. There are 2 main parts to this capacity upgrade.
Firstly, the old west end stepped terracing is not considered fit for purpose and does not contribute towards any capacity in the ground. To qualify we need to remove the narrow terraced slabs, which will be broken up and carted away and replaced with a levelled tar-macadam floor, across the whole width of the west terrace.
Secondly, the installation of a number of crush barriers along the covered and uncovered East Terrace. This will provide greater crowd safety measures, providing an automatic improvement to ground capacity.
We have chosen these specific works as they provide the most cost effective impact on capacity. The total project amounts to £56,000 and will be funded from club operating proceeds, a donation from the WFCSA and a large grant from the Premier League Stadium Fund.
Chairman Barry Hunter commented: “Firstly I would like to thank WFCSA for their continued support to the club, it’s really appreciated. Secondly to the Football Foundation and Premier League for their necessary grant funding. Following the works, the new ground capacity is estimated to be 3,250, which will be suitably above the required minimum for Step 2”.
The club will keep disruption down to a minimum but the plan will mean that the West end terracing will not accessible from any part of the ground on the following scheduled home games: Tuesday 14th February (Men v Crowborough Senior Cup) Sunday 19th February (Women v Fulham), Tuesday 21st February (Men v Dulwich Hamlet), Saturday 25th February (Men v Hungerford Town).
In preparation for the west terrace works, the old covered west stand has been dismantled and will be moved off site this week.
The club have a number of development priorities around the stadium and we need to make sure that our investments are prioritised. This means for now, we will only complete the absolute minimum necessary to fulfil our capacity obligations.
Unfortunately, for this reason, at least for the time being, we are unlikely to replace the west end covered stand as this is not a ground grading requirement at Step 2. The club will however review all its ground development options and priorities over the coming months.
The club recognises that this will reduce our already limited covered terracing and it is not ideal at all. But we must navigate through these ground upgrades within our spending boundaries. This is going to take patience and we want to thank everyone who will be affected by this disruption for their understanding.
If you are visiting please be vigilant around the ground during this work period but be reassured that all other areas and facilities will be in full operation as usual.