Update: Council respond to Barnet Football Club ground departure
15:04 14 December 2011
Barnet Council have responded after Barnet Football Club announced that they are to leave Underhill at the end of the season due to circumstances beyond their control.
The Bees have played at their ground for 104 years and due to land issues and the expiry of the Cricket Club lease in December 2012, which provides access to the stadium have been forced to relocate.
The club had asked the Football League whether they could start next season at Underhill but they do not want them to do this without a contingency plan to complete their fixtures.
“Our intention has always been to stay at Underhill for a few more years but we are now finally focused on our future location rather than having the same old discussions with your council that never lead anywhere,” Chairman Tony Kleanthous told the licencing department of Barnet Council.
The chairman also hit out at the council in a message to supporters.
“We have spent nearly £2million improving Underhill over the last few years but Barnet Council seem to want us to rip everything up and go back to the cloth cap days of cramming people in and letting them use a wall as a toilet!
“It really is an embarrassing state of affairs and I cannot allow our faithful supporters to endure anymore of the humiliating taunts and jokes from our rivals.
“It’s time we looked to our future and how we can achieve a final solution to our ground problems because we have so many positives as a club and the foundations are in place for us to grow, we need to move on with our heads held high.
“Barnet FC is a great family club with a loyal fan base consisting of one of the highest ratios of female and young child supporters in the Football League, a growing community charity that now operates across two London boroughs, financial stability with a strong balance sheet and a wholly owned training facility the envy of almost every other league club.
“On the field our ladies team are the cup holders and our men’s team is one step away from a Wembley Final.
“So I, for one, will not shed a tear and want to look forward and think of how much more we can achieve once released from the artificial chains used to bind us.
“This blinkered council will never know what they had until they have finally lost it!”
Barnet council have responded to claims by the football club and insist they have done everything in their power to keep the Bees at Underhill.
“I just don’t recognise this version of events. We have already offered Mr Kleanthous a 15 year extension to his lease at a cost of £7,000 a year. That would let him run the ground safely at its current capacity,” leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said.
“The club has also been offered a licence for vehicles to use Priory Grove for a nominal fee ‘whilst the club’s Underhill land is used as a football stadium’”
“I can only assume this latter point is the stumbling block.”