The following is an extract from a letter written by Barnet FC Chairman, Tony Kleanthous, in response to a communication from the PR Director of the Supporters’ Trust, Derek Rocholl.
I have tried to be as open as possible regarding the dealings with Barnet Council, but due to a lack of co-operation and contact it has been easier said than done.
The gap between the club and the council is pretty easy to identify; in simple terms, we want to develop our site and build a new stadium in Barnet and they don’t want us to do either. The issue between the two parties really is that straight forward and contrary to popular belief it is not personal.
I firmly believe that the Trust has an important role to play in campaigning for a new stadium in Barnet. As has already been stated, proceeds from the sale of Underhill will go into such a development but we will need to look elsewhere if Barnet Council continue to be obstructive.
The club will also be commemorating Underhill and the marketing team are currently planning a farewell campaign. We hope to announce something soon but we had to hold back on any announcements in case there was a change in circumstances prior to the lease expiring in December.
The club have continued to meet and negotiate with the council right up until the New Year and if anything positive had come out of this then the fans would have been informed. However, this was not to be. As previously announced, we have now been granted Football League approval to relocate to The Hive and it is full steam ahead in preparing and developing the site for next season.
Updates on progress at The Hive will be produced by our web team and published via the official website and social networks as the build progresses.
With regards the Trust and supporters’ specific questions, please find the answers below.
Are Barnet FC still on track to start playing first team matches at The Hive in August 2013?
“We are on track for the move but have a delay whilst awaiting for the London Underground to approve the engineering works adjacent to the Jubilee Line on the west side of the new stadium. In the last 12 months I have personally funded new works, totalling some £3.2m and have committed up to £5m and for the balance we are applying for a Football Foundation grant of £750,000. You are welcome to pop down and see how this investment is taking shape.”
What work is outstanding at The Hive?
“The stadium should be complete on three sides by the end of April and hopefully the fourth, west side, will be erected during May and June. The bar, restaurant, hospitality and changing rooms are complete and the medical centre will be ready next month. The pitch drainage and composition is done as is part of the new irrigation system. We hope to have a test game in May to see how the pitch plays.”
Will the South Stand and floodlights be moved from Underhill to The Hive?
“We are still deciding whether to move the South Stand, floodlights and PA equipment in the summer or whether to buy new equipment. I had intended to leave the existing structures at Underhill for another season and use the stadium for some minor games but as always the licensing regime at Barnet Council is making life difficult, so it may be easier to just shut the site down.”
Are Barnet FC responsible for widening Camrose Avenue prior to matches being staged there?
“Depending on traffic, we may need to improve the entrance at Camrose Avenue to make it easier for cars turning right into the site so this will need monitoring.”
How many parking spaces and will there be a charge?
"There are about 350 spaces of which about 300 will be generally available to supporters. At the moment it is envisaged there will be a parking charge at the Hive in line with our Travel Plan which was as a result of government policy at the time of planning.”
Will buses be run from Barnet to The Hive and if so, what will be the cost?
“We are hoping to run subsidised travel from Underhill to the Hive but at the moment I do not know the exact cost of this. We will announce details as soon as we have some information.”
Will the price of match tickets be higher than at Underhill?
“I think some areas will be a similar price to Underhill and others will be more expensive but we haven’t really thought about pricing yet. There is no intention for any radical price increases and we want to encourage members and season ticket holders to come across so hopefully we will have some good price promotions for supporters.”