TWELVE months ago Stansted FC was preparing for relegation from the Essex Senior League (ESL) and faced possible closure. However, the club has had a dramatic turnaround during the last season and is now in with a chance of promotion to the Isthmian North Division.
Stansted FC play in the ESL the ninth tier of English Football currently sitting second, just two points behind league leaders Hullbridge Sports FC.
Should Stansted finish top they will receive promotion to the Isthmian North division, however complications of ground grading issues could mean that they may finish as champions, but not be rewarded with promotion.
Tom Williams, club secretary, believes they will need to raise between £15,000 to £20,000, with additional funding from the FA, in order to pass the ground criteria required for promotion to the next level.
It’s always frustrating when non-league sides are not rewarded with promotion due to ground grading requirements; however just 12 months ago Stansted FC had much more to worry about.
Stansted finished 18th in the Essex Senior league (ESL) last season and were relegated. Talks were held about the future of the club and whether to voluntarily liquidate it.
However one team’s misfortune would become Stansted FC’s saviour as they was rewarded with a reprieve due to a team in the tier below not being able to receive promotion because of ground grading.
At the time of writing there are only three games left in the ESL, with their final home game against sixth place Woodford Town.
The club are in contention to win the treble this season because, not only could they win the league, they could also win two trophies. They are in both the Gordon Brasted Trophy final and the league trophy final (Errington Challenge Cup) against St Margretsbury FC & West Essex FC. Much of Stansted’s the success is down to signings and tactical success on the pitch.
Every two years the FA visit the club to conduct a ground grading exercise to ensure it conforms to a set of criteria. This year it was identified that the dressing rooms needed urgent refurbishment, including the shower area and the barriers around the perimeter of the pitch needed replacement.
As an FA Charter Standard Club, Stansted has access to funding through the ‘National Stadium Improvement Grant Scheme’ but would need to raise at least 30 per cent of the overall project costs.
Tom said: “The club has since sat down and put together what we believe the overall expenditure on these projects to be at £50,000, which means the football club would be looking to raise from alternative sources at least £15,000. It would be a great disappointment to all if we lost our status due to our Hargrave Park facility not receiving this much needed facelift. “
For now it’s just a waiting game and the team will be pushing for the league title. If they win it, a decision will be made in the summer regarding a stadium grading.