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Monday 04 October 2010
Kingsmeadow stadium update - from the Forest Green Rovers programme

The following article appeared in the Forest Green Rovers programme.

FIT FOR THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

Chief Executive Erik Samuelson says what we need to do to make Kingsmeadow a League ground. That is not to say that we are going to stay here (to be continued . . .).


Good afternoon and welcome to the fans, officials and players of Forest Green Rovers.

The Football League will soon be sending clubs a self-assessment checklist to enable them to gauge their readiness for promotion. This prompted me to write an update on the status of our current situation. In short, our stadium is not far short of meeting the League’s criteria. Some things would need to be done between winning promotion and the start of the following season; we’ve not done them yet because they aren’t requirements for the Conference and they won’t be cheap.

The main improvement we will need to make is to introduce a control room to act as the centre of all safety operations. We’ll need automatic counting equipment to record the number of fans entering the stadium so that at any particular moment we will know how many people there are in each area. This isn’t as easy as it first sounds, since there isn’t a turnstile to count fans entering the Paul Strank Stand, nor is there one for the south end of the John Smith’s Stand. We will also need to install CCTV inside the stadium.

If we were to win promotion via the play-offs we would have only about 12 weeks to install a working control room, so we’ve already obtained planning permission for one, to be situated above the yellow gates that exit onto Jack Goodchild Way.

We are also obtaining quotes for installing the turnstile monitoring equipment and cameras. As part of this, earlier this week Mike Dowek (who does terrific work for the Stadium Working Group) and I visited Dagenham & Redbridge to look at what they did when they installed their control room. The assistance we got from their managing director, Steve Thompson, was invaluable and typical of the welcome we get when we go to other clubs for advice.

There are two other major things we will need to complete for Football League status to be maintained, once there. The first is to get our capacity up to 5,000 by the end of the first season in the League. The body that advises on this is the Football Licensing Authority. Their representative visited Kingsmeadow last year and we carried out a detailed exercise to assess exactly how many fans we can fit into the stadium, area by area. The answer came out to just over 5,200, so long as we make a number of improvements, such as how we manage fans as they leave the ground. As long as we do that, and we know we can, that requirement is covered.

The final hurdle, which will be the most expensive one to get over, is to increase our covered seating to 2,000 while keeping the overall capacity above 5,000. We would need to do this by 1 May in our third season in the Football League. We already have architects’ plans for what strikes me as an expensive solution – one we might implement if we found we were staying here for the foreseeable future. But our aim is to have a new stadium, so what we need is a plan for a short-term solution that meets our needs as cheaply as possible.

For that reason we’ve asked another company to give us ideas and a cost for something to tide us over. They described the problem of keeping the capacity up while increasing the covered seating as being a bit like a Rubik’s cube – every time you try something new, everything else is affected. Nevertheless, we expect to get their first thoughts in the next couple of weeks, and then, hopefully, we’ll be ready for the day we get into the Football League – whenever that may be.

That’s an update on this stadium. In my page for the next home game, I’ll talk about where we’ve got to in our pursuit of a new stadium.

Enjoy the game.