Following a vote of clubs, the National League North and South fixtures for the current season have been declared “null and void”.
Some clubs had been left with an improbable backlog of 30+ fixtures to complete in just 3 months as a result of COVID-19 restrictions and weather postponements.
Clubs also claimed that the government promises, to backfill the income lost from playing behind closed doors, had not been fulfilled.
It means that York City’s fixture against Fylde, which was the first to take place at the new Community Stadium on Tuesday, will be the last until next season.
Friendly fixtures may resume on July by which time it is hoped that spectators will be permitted to attend.
The York Knights rugby matches are expected to start on 2nd April although their first fixture, against Toulouse, is likely to be staged behind closed doors at the Community Stadium.
City of York Council and operators GLL have confirmed that the LNER Community Stadium complex has been completed.
The project was agreed by the Council in 2008 with the original intention of opening the facility in 2012. At that time it had been expected that the section 106 contribution from the developers of the Vanguard shopping centre would have covered all the costs of the new stadium.
The reality is that taxpayers now face a £15 million+ bill.
Nevertheless the stadium will be a welcome addition to the City’s facilities, although it remains unclear when all services located there will actually be up and running.
York City’s next home fixture is scheduled to take place on 28th December.
The Council has issued a media statement saying that, with the final safety checks complete, the council and GLL will formally take control of the site from the building contractors on Friday 18 December.
The council and GLL are now working with partners to make sure residents benefit from the many sports, services and facilities it will host as soon as possible.
- an 8,500 seater stadium for York City Football Cub and York City Knights
- a community hub, including a library and community offices for York’s sports clubs
- York Against Cancer shop and offices
- NHS outpatient services
- new swimming facilities, gym, dance studio and sports hall with spectator seating
It seems that work on the LNER Community Stadium has finally been completed. With York City’s 20/21 fixture list due to be published on Tuesday, fans will be wondering how many will be able to get into the stadium from 3rd October start date?
No details of the required “test events” have been published and it is also unclear when the sports centre will open.
It is 16 years since the football club were given notice to quit Bootham Crescent by the then owner.
Members of Parliament have written to the Sports Minister asking when clubs like York City will be able to reopen their grounds.
The MP’s highlighted the perilous position of many non league clubs finances.
Uncertainty – about when paying customers will be able to attend games – and in what numbers – is putting some clubs under threat of closure.
The MPs pointed to the imminent start of the pre-season “friendly” programme.
Although neither of the local MPs signed the 21st August letter, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he supported a more general plea made in a letter sent on 17th August and subsequently backed this up with an Email last Monday. There has been no word from York Central MP Rachel Maskell in whose constituency the present York City/York Knights ground is located.
Currently the expectation is that, when the National Leagues resume in October, around 30% of the seats may be available for supporters.
There is a particular problem for York City FC who will manage the new LNER community stadium at Monks Cross. Before they can take full occupation a “test” event involving 3000 spectators must take place. This would allow a safety certificate for the 8500 seater stadium to be issued.
There has been a suggestion – as a result of the health restrictions on capacity which are likely to apply for a few months at least – that certification for a smaller capacity might be possible.
There has been no word from the stadium owners – the York Council – about how and when this might be achieved.
There are 6 weeks to go until the start of the football season for clubs like York City
Building work is still continuing at the site of the LNER Community Stadium at Monks Cross. It seems that it will be some time before all the buildings can be brought into use.
The main area of concern remains the stadium itself. The authorities failed to stage the required test events before the lockdown led to a suspension of most work.
The test events – of varying capacities – are a prerequisite for the issue of a safety certificate. Without a certificate the stadium can’t be commissioned.
It is something of a paradox that – because of social distancing regulations – initially only a proportion of the capacity would be used. The (National League) football season is due to start at the beginning of October. That is only seven weeks away. Players will recommence training shortly and it is customary to stage friendly matches in the immediate run up to start of a season.
There is little clarify from the government at this stage about how social distancing might limit crowd numbers.
Some sports commentators have said that as few as 1 in 5 seats might be occupied.
Therein may be the rub for York City.
Social distancing is potentially much easier in an all seater stadium like the one at Monk Cross. If 20% of its 8512 seats were occupied then this would be enough to accommodate all season ticket holders plus a few more.
York City’s average attendance, during the last fully completed season (2018/19), was 2443.
In the same year the York Knights Rugby Team attracted 2125.
If one in three seats could be occupied (essentially respecting a 1 metre social distancing guideline) the all regular supporters could be accommodated.
Some other teams in the National League North have announced plans to ground share at stadiums with a larger capacity to accommodate all who wish to attend.
Hopefully the Council and its partners have plans in place to quickly finish off the remaining building work and find a way to open the stadium albeit possibly with a reduced capacity.
Planning application to be determined on 13th August
Council official are recommending that planning permission be granted to build 93 houses on the site of York City Football Clubs existing stadium. The Club is expected to move to a new stadium at Monks Cross later this year.
The development, which has been in the pipeline for over a decade, will comprise 12 one bed, 33 two bed, 37 three bed and 11 four bed properties. Of these 18 (20%) will be classed as “affordable”.
The plans incorporate a heritage proposal agreed with Historic England which acknowledges the significance of the football ground over the last 90 years.
It consequently incorporates the following elements that will give distinctive character to the development and evidence the site’s past use –
- A memorial garden and a retained section of the west stand. The retained section of terrace along with evidence of the location of the centre circle within the landscaping will allow for orientation and evidence of the previous layout of the site.
- The ‘proposed flag location’ annotated on the site plan relates to the flag present at the football ground (in a similar location). Historically the flag was lowered gradually towards the end of the game.
- The west brick boundary wall, which predates use of the site by the football club will be retained (it will be lowered removing the blockwork).
The report goes on to say,
The retained terrace and tunnel will provide a lasting legacy of the stadium and create a focal point for memory and orientation. The location of the retained terrace and tunnel matches the desired position on the halfway line at the midpoint of the Popular Stand and in front of the POS. The precise length of the section will be determined by conservation, engineering and health and safety considerations but is not expected to exceed 6m.
The preferred location for the memorial garden is around the base of this
structure to provide discreet location for remembrance. The side walls of the terrace could be used to support memorial plaques etc, while caskets and ashes could be buried at the base of the walls. Some existing metal fencing and gates in the Popular Stand could be appropriated to secure the perimeter at the top of the terrace and ends of the tunnel. Similarly, the
wooden picket fence in front of the Popular Stand should be reclaimed to border the memorial garden.
The idea of recreating the centre circle in the middle of the POS is applauded, it would be in alignment with the retained section of terrace and provide a further place for orientation.
The flagpole was originally located between the south-east corner of the pitch and the stadium entrance. It is suggested that the new flagpole is erected as close as possible to this original location, and that it flies a replica of the club flag as a permanent and symbolic reminder of fans’ allegiance to Bootham Crescent. Its proposed location does not exactly match the original position, but it is as near as possible in the proposed layout. Ideally, like the centre circle, it should be slightly further south and east, closer to the new entrance.
Any development will not take place until both the football and Rugby Clubs have moved to the – much delayed – new stadium. Commissioning work there is still apparently held up by the after affects of the pandemic. Social distancing regulations currently make it impossible to stage large scale trial events there, an essential prerequisite for stadium certification.
Details of the planning committee report can be found by clicking here
The announcement earlier in the year, that the opening of the City’s new Community Stadium would be delayed until the autumn, surprised few people.
York City Football Club first learned in 2004 that it could face a move away from Bootham Crescent.
The future of the Knights Rugby team subsequently become inextricably intertwined with the stadiums future.
All seemed well in 2010 when a source of funding (S106 planning contributions) for a new stadium was obtained. Planning permission for the Vanguard development was subsequently granted.
Further delays occurred as the Council agonised about procurement polices and management arrangements.
After many false dawns, the stadium should have been opening this month.
The announcement of another 6 month delay came as a disappointment.
Such information as leaked out about the cause of the delay was neither confirmed nor denied by a Council embroiled in a local election process. The “purdah” period prevented any statements that might have influenced the election result.
It is now over 5 weeks after the election concluded – with another “no overall majority” result. The Green Party, which opposed the stadium development together with some Tories – now shares power with the LibDems who themselves have a long commitment to the stadium.
There is no suggestion that political interference is behind the reason for the delayed announcements.
The “purdah” period is long over yet no explanation for the delay or, more importantly, a new opening date have been confirmed. The last official statement talked about an October opening date.
More realistically, the clubs may now be hoping that the stadium will be available for the lucrative Christmas /New Year fixture programme.
NB. York City’s National League North fixture list is due to be announced on 3rd July. The season will kick off on Saturday, August 3rd. The Football Club has already announced its season ticket prices.
The Knights official home opener in the brand new Community Stadium in Huntington is set to take place on 20th July 2019.
They will welcome close rivals Bradford Bulls.
It will be a Saturday evening kick off at 6:00 pm
There is still a lot of work to be done at the stadium and sometimes commissioning takes longer than expected (ask any Spurs fan)
York City will no doubt be hoping to stage a landmark fixture in early July against a “big name” opponent.
National League football fixtures don’t commence until August.