Barnet forced to leave Underhill at end of season
Wed 14th Dec 2011 | Football Stadiums & Facilities
Barnet Football club have today announced that they are to leave the Underhill Stadium, their home for 104 years at the end of the season.
The decision has been prompted by the long standing land issues and the expiry of the Cricket Club lease in December 2012, which provides access to the southern end of the football stadium.
Barnet revealed last week that they had written to the Football League asking if they could start next season 2012-13 at Underhill even though they could not guarantee they would have a licence to operate the stadium in 2013.
The Football League, acting within their regulations, have replied that they would not want Barnet FC to start next season at Underhill without a contingency plan to complete their fixtures and the club is now widening its net and looking at alternative sites for relocation.
Chairman Tony Kleanthous has told the licensing department of Barnet Council: "Our intention has always been to stay at Underhill for a few more years but we are now finally focused on our future location rather than having the same old discussions with your council that never lead anywhere".
Barnet argue that it would be impossible to operate to Football Association and Football League standards with a reduced footprint for half a season, as has been suggested by the council, and rejected a plan produced by them which entailed reducing the capacity of Underhill to a little over 5,100 with about 1,300 seats - below the Football League ground criteria of a minimum 2,000 seats.
The council plan also included relocation of the club offices and staff; removal of spectator toilets, disabled parking and associated disabled facilities; no on-site parking for officials, visiting directors or sponsors and reconfigured southern turnstiles with emergency evacuation areas reduced to the minimum allowable standards.
In a message to supporters the chairman said "We have spent nearly £2million improving Underhill over the last few years but Barnet Council seem to want us to rip everything up and go back to the cloth cap days of cramming people in and letting them use a wall as a toilet!
“It really is an embarrassing state of affairs and I cannot allow our faithful supporters to endure anymore of the humiliating taunts and jokes from our rivals. It's time we looked to our future and how we can achieve a final solution to our ground problems because we have so many positives as a club and the foundations are in place for us to grow, we need to move on with our heads held high.
“Barnet FC is a great family club with a loyal fan base consisting of one of the highest ratios of female and young child supporters in the Football League, a growing community charity that now operates across two London boroughs, financial stability with a strong balance sheet and a wholly owned training facility the envy of almost every other league club.
“On the field our ladies team are the cup holders and our men's team is one step away from a Wembley Final. So I, for one, will not shed a tear and want to look forward and think of how much more we can achieve once released from the artificial chains used to bind us. This blinkered council will never know what they had until they have finally lost it!"
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