Cambridge City Football Club have revealed that matches could start to be played at their new stadium before Christmas.
Work on the new facility in Sawston has been delayed in recent years, by both the pandemic and more recently due to the rise in costs.
As a result, the club does not expect to be able to ‘hold a full official opening until prior to the 2024/25 season’.
However, providing that the necessary ground grading regulations are met, including the temporary installation of portable changing rooms, the hope is that the Lilywhites will be able to run out in front of supporters at their new home before the turn of the year.
A club statement read: “With regards to the project as a whole, it’s fair to say that the stadium build has been hampered by several issues, not least the global pandemic which set us back a long way in terms of availability of workers, suppliers and materials.
“As the world got back to normal the prices of everything shot up, you’ll have all felt this in your own pockets too. We’ve also had our fair share of red tape to comply with. Thankfully there is now light at the end of the tunnel and we can start to put a realistic timeline together that we believe will get us into the stadium and enjoy watching our teams in our own home, subject to any further external factors.
“We are now working at a pace to finish the elements we need to complete, in order to meet planning conditions, building regulations and of course the all-important FA ground grading. Our new stadium will need to be ground-graded before we can start playing there and up until recently this has been down to the leagues.
“However, this is being overhauled and will be carried out by the FA from this season. The FA will soon have a system to make the process much easier for themselves and all clubs going forward.
“This does mean revisiting all 900+ clubs in the UK throughout next season. We have proactively opened a conversation with the FA ground grading committee to start this process before the internal fit out is even complete.
“Once we have met these requirements, we will be able to progress with the internal fit out of the two floors of the main stand.
“The ground floor will serve as a hub for all fans and players with incredible changing facilities for home and away teams, plus the officials along with the all-important main bar, function room and the club shop.
“Whilst upstairs will feature our Hospitality suite, boardroom, executive boxes and an education room for our players and the local community. It’s a big project which is likely to take many months to fully complete.
“Perfection takes time and the delays we have experienced in being able to start the internal fit out means a conservative estimate would see us not being able to hold a full official opening until prior to the 2024/25 season.
“Therefore, we must progress getting the stadium to a position where we can safely and comfortably play and watch football ahead of the final completion. This would mean installing portable changing rooms and creating an awesome fan zone where we can supply food, drinks, toilet facilities and shelter.
“The terraces and main stand would all be available for spectating, but the inside of the main stand would not be accessible. In this scenario, we could potentially be enjoying football at our home before Christmas, subject to ground grading and health and safety sign off.
“The vision of the board has always been that we wanted the stadium completely finished before opening.
“However, we are also mindful that by opening earlier than anticipated, we can start to grow the club both financially and in stature. We began this project to get us back up the league structure and the sooner we start doing that, the sooner we can achieve our goals.
“Opening early will allow all of us to start enjoying the satisfaction of watching our teams in our very own stadium, knowing that there are exciting future developments down the road, as we continue to grow the business side of the club and introduce new facilities while we continue our journey. As we progress over the next few months we will have a better idea of what is the more realistic option.
“Thank you for your patience, it’s been a frustrating period for us all and after a long fight we are close to achieving this amazing comeback.”
The club will begin their 2023/24 campaign ground sharing with St Ives Town.
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