Towners ready to depart on European tour

Andrew Warshaw previews Enfield Town FC’s upcoming international adventure

The Towners will soon be departing London for Europe
The Towners will soon be departing London for the continent

At the end of this month, Enfield Town FC embark on one of the most exciting ventures in their history.

Everyone at the club is readying themselves for the team’s very first competitive European fixtures as part of the Fenix Trophy, a Uefa-approved tournament involving non-professional clubs selected for their unique ethos.

While near-neighbours Tottenham Hotspur have no European competition to look forward to this season, the Towners – the first supporter-owned club in the country – were invited to join the third edition of the Fenix Trophy, which recognises social and cultural distinctiveness.

They play their first game on 28th November when they host current champions BK Skjold of Denmark in Group A of the twelve-team, four-group tournament.

In the past, Enfield Town have formed a close connection with previous Fenix participants FC United of Manchester and Belgian side KSK Beveren, finding common ground over their fan-owned status.

“It’s a great privilege to have been invited to participate in this year’s Fenix Trophy,” Town director Gabriel Meytanis, who has been spearheading the club’s involvement, told the Dispatch. “Given that the tournament is a celebration of culturally and historically significant clubs in the European non-league game, it’s a real badge of honour for us to be involved.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase what we offer as a football club, to foster relations and friendships with our fellow clubs across Europe, and to demonstrate how enjoyable and how important the game remains away from the professional level […] we’re hoping that all our games in the competition will certainly live up to that.”

The other team in Enfield Town’s group is South Wales outfit Llantwit Major FC, with remaining fixtures to be decided in the coming weeks. The first stage consists of four groups of three, with every club playing home and away. No more than one game per day will take place, allowing the respective fan bases to take centre stage.

The name Fenix is an acronym representing the tournament’s core values; friendly, European, non-professional, innovative and xenial, which comes from the Ancient Greek word xenos, indicating an attitude of hospitality towards strangers.

The ground-breaking tournament is run by Italian side Brera FC, who have participated in the two previous editions, but this year are just organisers. Brera’s Leonardo Aleotti, who conceived the idea, is keen to stress the non-professional nature of the competition.

“It is all about replacing the value of money with the experience of something unique,” Leonardo said. “Enfield are trailblazers for fan-owned governance.”

Last year’s final four was played at the iconic San Siro in Milan and, although there is no decision yet about this season’s venue, it seems likely to be in Italy in late spring.

Enfield Town chairman Paul Reed commented: “The trophy celebrates unique and progressive clubs across the continent and we’re extremely thrilled and delighted to be making our debut.

“It was a very easy decision to accept the invite. Having watched the competition develop over the last couple of years we can’t wait to be involved and bring European football to our players and supporters.

“Our great friends at Beveren and FCUM have spoken very highly of the tournament and we look forward to forging fantastic new relationships with our fellow competitors.”

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