HENLEY Town Football Club has submitted plans to SODC to increase the seating capacity of its stand to seat 100 people and to build standing covered accommodation behind the goal at the car park end of the Mill Lane ground.
Club chairman Kim Chapman said the higher capacity was in order to meet FA requirements for the Red Kites to play in the Hellenic League Premier Division (FA Level 5). The work would cost about £10,000. Mr Chapman said: “If you get promotion to the Premier Division you have to have more room for people to sit and stand uncover. The League needs to know that the club have the facilities to go forward.”
He said the move signalled the club’s ambitions and its desire to attract more followers down to Mill Lane on match days.
“It’s a stepping stone to building the club up to go places,” he said. “If you have no ambition you’re not going to go anywhere. There’s no point in me going to Henley Town and sitting on my backside because that’s no good for anybody.” If planning permission is granted the club hope to have the new facilities built within about six months.
“If we get promotion into the Premier Division this season we have got a year’s grace,” said Mr Chapman. “If we don’t get promotion I’m not going to get upset about it because this is a building year.”
He believes that Henley Town Council will support the club’s plans.
He said: “It’s about putting Henley Town FC back on the map and making it a recognisable club around the area so we can attract more people. We are trying to make it a communal club.
“This is a good era for the club — we have got more people involved and people believe in what we’re doing.
The Red Kites are currently sixth in the Hellenic League Division One East, with games in hand, on 23 points, 19 off the top spot.
Wokingham and Emmbrook Football Club, whose own ground does not meet League or FA specifications, are currently ground sharing at Mill Lane whilst they are looking to build a ground with the required facilities in the Borough of Wokingham.
They are currently in third place in the same League as Henley and if they were to be promoted would require the ground to be upgraded.
South Oxfordshire District Council is due to make a decision on the planning application by the end of the month.