Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger and the club’s CEO, Ivan Gazidis officially unveiled Boreham Wood FC’s new stadium upgrades yesterday (Thursday 27 July).
The project benefited from Premier League funding in the shape of a grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
The funding from the FSIF has enabled the club to make a number of vital upgrades to their stadium, including: installing new floodlights; replacing dugouts which were no longer fit for purpose and making improvements to the pitch’s drainage. A new DESSO surface has also been installed, thanks to substantial investment from Arsenal FC.
Meadow Park is home to not only Boreham Wood FC (BWFC), but also Arsenal Ladies FC. As the Women’s Super League will commence a winter season from 2017/18 onwards, the pitch will get more use during these months than before. The improvements made to the pitch, and the brand new floodlights, will improve the safety and flexibility of training and matches for both clubs.
The official opening event included a range of family activities, football training sessions for children from the ages of five to 12 and other community events through the day. The FA Cup trophy was also on display. The ceremonial unveiling occurred ahead of a match between Boreham Wood FC and an Arsenal XI.
The club secured a grant of £72,755 from the Premier League-funded FSIF – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation. This, along with further funding from Arsenal and Boreham Wood FC itself, has made the stadium upgrade project a success. The project has further improved the stadium’s compliance with the Grade A level of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria.
The event marked a return to the pitch for Wenger, who opened BWFC’s West Stand in August 2015. The project received £241,000 from the Premier League, through the FSIF, allowing the club to replace the original terrace, which had fallen into disrepair, having been built in the early 1970s.
Funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Arsène Wenger OBE, Arsenal FC Manager, said: “It’s a pleasure to help Boreham Wood open their new pitch. Our women’s and academy teams play their home matches here at Meadow Park, so of course it’s important for us that the facilities are the best they can be. I must say that we are very pleased with the new facilities and I would like to thank everyone involved in making them possible.”
David Miles, Arsenal FC Club Secretary, added: “We’re delighted to be able to celebrate the major redevelopments at Meadow Park with our traditional pre-season match against Boreham Wood FC. The facilities at Meadow Park have always been good and with the major refurbishment of the facility now taking place, they will soon be even better.”
Danny Hunter, Chairman of Boreham Wood FC, said: “It’s fair to say that our new pitch construction really does look like money well spent. But the truth is, the cost of the whole reconstruction, coupled with Arsenal and FSIF’s continued support, simply underpins the community club that they have helped to build.
“As long-standing partners who have worked with our club, both Arsenal and the FSIF have been incredible throughout this whole project. That is demonstrated by Arsenal’s Mr Wenger and Mr Gazidis coming to Meadow Park to enjoy themselves during the official unveiling.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am very pleased that Boreham Wood FC have been able to make vital improvements to their stadium through a grant from the Premier League-funded FSIF. I’d like to thank Arsène Wenger OBE and Ivan Gazidis, on behalf of the FSIF, for taking the time to officially unveil the upgrades.
“The Premier League plays a very important role in improving stadia across non-league levels, and this is an excellent example of what their money can do. This project will improve the experience of players and fans alike, which is vital to the progress of the game.”