Taking the next step forward

Andrew Warshaw on how Enfield Town FC are preparing to expand QE2 Stadium in the event of a possible promotion

The main at QE2 Stadium
The main at QE2 Stadium can seat 100 people but is not big enough to meet the standards needed for National League South

It’s getting towards the business end of the season for Enfield Town FC and their bid to reach Step 2 of the non-league pyramid for the first time in their history.

There is about six weeks of the regular season remaining, during which the borough’s leading club will learn its fate in terms of whether a play-off place can be achieved.

Planning ahead is all important and last month the club passed a crucial landmark in its bid to be ready for National League South, should he Towners succeed in achieving promotion. Grading officials passed the ground fit for ‘entry’ level to Step 2, meaning the club could begin life in a higher division without having to immediately undertake any substantial improvements. However, the club has been told that, by March 2023, the stadium would have to undergo considerable upgrading to be allowed to continue playing in National League South.

Vice-chairman Paul Millington outlined the type of work that will need to be put in place. He said: “We’d need a single stand that can house 250 seats,” said Paul. “At the moment the main stand can only accommodate 100. We can’t do anything with that building, so you’re looking at the stand opposite, which right now has 150 seats. So our options are either a brand new stand or, alternatively, add an additional 50 seats each side.

“The next element is that we would need to have an additional three turnstiles in order to facilitate a third area, which is the ability to segregate.”

The work does not have to be completed until 31st March 2023 and the recent ground grading, confirming that QE2 Stadium meets the standard of the Isthmian League Premier Division as far as health and safety is concerned, represented important buying time before putting in place requirements needed to sustain Step 2 football.

Paul said: “We had our latest ground inspection back in the autumn when they identified a number of issues, including perimeter fencing behind each goal.

“Our volunteers were incredibly busy over the last few months and now we’ve been given the thumbs up. So basically we can continue to play at Step 3 level, and we’ve also been passed for entry level to Step 2. It’s taken a lot of man hours.”

Of course, the major works would need paying for, but up to half of the money would come through grants from the Football Stadium Improvement Fund. The rest – somewhere in the region of £20,000 – would somehow have to be found by the club.

That’s for the future. More immediately, every point is crucial, with a number of highs and lows likely along the way before the regular season ends in late April. Until then, a string of clubs are battling for the four playoff places, and perhaps even the title itself.

“It’s something to look forward to,” says Paul. “We’ve done remarkably well to get where we are. Now we have to get over the line.”

Enfield Town FC’s remaining league fixtures:
Saturday 5th March: East Thurrock United (home)*
Saturday 12th March: Hornchurch (away)
Saturday 19th March: Corinthian Casuals (home)
Saturday 26th March: Merstham (away)
Saturday 2nd April: Horsham (home)
Saturday 9th April: Brightlingsea Regent (away)
Saturday 15th April: Cray Wanderers (home)
Monday 18th April: Potters Bar (away)
Saturday 23rd April: Bognor Regis (home)
*Free entry for women and girls to mark International Women’s Day