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Wednesday 25 November 2009
From the Ebbsfleet programme

After home games we sometimes publish articles from the programme that provide news or information about the club and Trust and which haven't previously appeared on this site.

This feature updates fans about the process of preparing for the Football League.


Our current form may not make us hot favourites for promotion but, as chief executive Erik Samuelson explains, we still need to prepare for the Football League.

Good evening and welcome to the fans, players and officials of Ebbsfleet United.

On this page Iíve often talked about the need to plan ahead, and I make no apologies for doing so again this evening. By the time you read this, we will have submitted the self-assessment questionnaire for qualification for the Football League. Whatever the outcome of this season, we need to be clear about what we need to do to qualify to enter the League, and subsequently to achieve the higher standards that are set in order to stay there. Most of the key requirements are to do with the stadium, though there are some other, mainly financial, matters to deal with too.

Going through the checklist has set me thinking Ė as it is clearly intended to do Ė sometimes about purely operational stuff and sometimes about related issues. Before I turn to these matters, Iíll remind you of the three stages of getting into (and staying in) the Football League.

By 1 March 2010 we must be able to demonstrate that we qualify (stage 1) to apply for entry to the Football League. This means that various ground improvements must be complete, most significant of which are increasing the number of turnstiles to eight and increasing the brightness of the floodlights.

As soon as we qualify for promotion to the Football League we need to make a formal application. This entails a visit from the League, at which we will have to demonstrate that we do indeed comply, but some other things, such as a control room, must be in place before the first League season starts.

Once a club gets into the Football League it has until the end of its first season to meet various additional requirements, for example to reach a capacity of 5,000 (ours is currently 4,717) and to improve the floodlighting again. That is the admission (i.e. second) stage. After that, clubs have two more seasons to meet the Football League membership criteria (stage 3), the main one being to provide 2,000 seats under cover (we currently have just over 1,250).

Most of these improvements are already planned for, and Iím confident that we will achieve the relevant criteria by the deadlines required. But in the short term, the Football League requirements have increased the pressure on us. How can that be? Well, the Football League very reasonably specifies that for a large number of their qualification criteria we need do nothing more at this stage so long as we meet the ground grading requirements for the Conference National (i.e. the one we are in now). But the twist is that while we have until 31 March to meet the Conference requirements, we have to meet the Football League requirements by 1 March. So we have had a month lopped off our already tight timetable.

While all this is going on, I feel we need to look at how we can improve the view for fans in the John Smith's Stand at an affordable cost and without undermining our current planning permissions. To be truthful, I canít yet see how we can do this, but I do feel we must try.

On a positive note, I am pleased to say that we have reached agreement on the transfer of the perimeter lease to the club (subject to the legal wording of the lease) while, at the same time, agreeing the last few points of a new licence with Kingstonian. We also have planning permission for implementing the new turnstiles and associated improvements, and the tenders for the work have just arrived. All being well, that work should start in the New Year and enable us to meet that particular requirement in time for 1 March.

Enjoy the game.