Stadium Upgrade for Welwyn Garden City
Stadium Upgrade for Welwyn Garden City FC
Ossie Ardiles unveils impressive stadium upgrade for Welwyn Garden City FC
Tottenham Hotspur FC Ambassador Ossie Ardiles officially unveiled Welwyn Garden City FC’s major stadium upgrade recently (Sunday 12 November).
The project was made possible by a grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country. Also in attendance was the star of BBC’s DIY SOS, Billy Byrne, who lives locally and Cllr. Lynne Sparks, Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.
Previously, the club’s ground did not meet the Grade F requirements of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria (FANGGC). The funding has enabled the club to install two brand new spectator stands and modify their existing clubhouse, following their promotion to the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division. The club also received support from Tottenham Hotspur FC, in the form of donated turnstiles from their historic White Hart Lane stadium ahead of its demolition.
Welwyn Garden City FC has been able to replace their original spectator stand, which was in poor condition due to age and could only hold 83 spectators, with two new covered spectator areas. This results in a new combined capacity of 220, including wheelchair users, surpassing the Grade F requirements for the club’s Step 5 position.
Welwyn Garden City FC have also been able to upgrade their clubhouse thanks to the grant. They have installed new showers, allowing the existing shower space to be remodelled to improve the club’s changing provision and include WC facilities in line with the FANGGC. This means that, should the club be successful in obtaining promotion, their ground meets the requirements for the next level.
The clubhouse kitchen has also been relocated to the front of the building. This means that food and drink can now be served directly to spectators, which previously was not possible. The stadium improvements will not only benefit the club’s players, but Welwyn Garden City FC also hope that it will help encourage fans to continue attending games, and attract new spectators.
The stadium upgrade was made possible by a £100,000 grant from the Premier League, which is delivered by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
Funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation – is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Ossie Ardiles, Tottenham Hotspur FC Ambassador, said:
“I was honoured to have unveiled Welwyn Garden City FC’s upgraded stadium. It’s great to see money from the top of the game, the Premier League, making its way to lower levels to improve the experience for players all over the country. The donation of turnstiles from White Hart Lane is testament to Spurs’ commitment to improving local football.
“As a former player and manager, I can really appreciate how much this is going to benefit the club. You can’t play your best if you are not supported in this by your environment, and it’s clear that the Welwyn Garden City FC ground is now well-equipped to support not only its players, but its loyal fans. I hope that Welwyn Garden City FC enjoys the benefits of its improved stadium, and I’m sure that it will help them to bring in even more fans.”
Olly Croft, Chairman of Welwyn Garden City FC, said:
“We are delighted to be upgrading the facilities at Herns Way to meet the demands required in our quest for a higher grade of football. We couldn't have done this with the enormous help we have had from several sources, in particular the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Welwyn/Hatfield Council and Marsdens Brewery. We thank them all as we strive to give the town of Welwyn Garden City a football club to be proud of.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said:
“I am delighted to hear that Welwyn Garden City FC have officially opened their upgraded stadium. The project has benefited from generous funding by the Premier League, delivered by the FSIF, which has enabled the club to improve their capacity and provide members with a state-of-the-art clubhouse. This will help them to attract and retain players and fans alike.
“Through the FSIF, the Premier League gives funding to lower-league clubs to improve stadia infrastructure across the country. Through projects such as this one, they are helping to make people safer and more comfortable whilst also inspiring and invigorating love of the game.”