On Saturday 20th April Barnet FC supporters packed Underhill to say an emotional farewell to a stadium that has been the home of their club since 1907.
For many Bees fans the move of the club’s first team games to the new Hive Stadium at Canons Park in the borough of Harrow for the 2013/14 season represents welcome progress after years of uncertainty over the ground issue.
For many others it represents an unwelcome loss of a significant part of the town of Barnet’s heritage which will make it more difficult for them to follow their club and cause damage to their local community and its businesses.
The move of Barnet FC’s first team games to the Hive is a temporary arrangement with a 10 year time limit. If the club achieves the success that its recent investment in the training academy, fitness centre, sports injury clinic and hospitality facilities at the Hive promise to deliver there is every prospect that the Hive stadium will prove to be too small for the club’s aspirations well before the 10 year time limit is up.
What unites almost every Bees supporter with the club and significant sections of the community of Barnet is the view that the long term home for the club should be at a fit for purpose stadium in Barnet.
In pursuit of this objective Barnet FC Supporters’ Trust have launched a “Back 2 Barnet” campaign.
In announcing the launch of the Back 2 Barnet campaign Supporters’ Trust Chairman Neil Staff said:
“Barnet FC belongs in Barnet and, while we will do all we can to help make the temporary move to the Hive a success, we are determined to secure a long term future home for the club in Barnet in a stadium that is capable of supporting a competitive professional football league club.
To make this happen we need support from all Barnet FC supporters and every person and every business in Barnet who cares about the importance of the club to the local community.”
Neil went on to say:
“It is essential that everyone has a clear view of what the Back 2 Barnet campaign is trying to achieve and the best way to do this is by submitting a planning application for the stadium we want to see built in Barnet.
The immediate challenge is to raise the funds required to cover the application fee and we have set a target of £75,000 to cover this. When we have raised the funds required to cover the application fee the club have agreed to provide support for the application.”
When asked about the Supporters’ Trust campaign a spokesperson for Barnet FC said; "This campaign has the football club’s full backing. We share our supporters’ desire to get back to Barnet as quickly as possible".
The club and the majority of its supporters are disappointed at the lack of any material help from the Council to keep the club in Barnet. Convincing local politicians to play a positive and proactive role in securing the return of the club will be an important part of the campaign.
The Supporters Trust will be pursuing a wide range of activities to generate support for the Back 2 Barnet campaign. Any one who wants to support the Back 2 Barnet campaign can register and provide details of the type of support they are able to provide on the Supporters Trust website at www.bfctrust.co.uk.