Football club forced to play games away over Arena uncertainty

The borough’s longest-established non-league football club go into the new season forced into a nomadic existence, uncertain of when their home ground at Croydon Arena will be available to stage home games.

Olympic athlete Donna Fraser: Arena is a lifeline

The council-owned Arena, the home ground of Croydon Football Club and the athletics training and competition base for Croydon Harriers, was closed for the covid-19 lockdown in March. But while other open air sports venues around south London have been opening up since May, there has been no date given for when the Arena will be covid-ready for a resumption.

Donna Fraser, the former Olympic sprinter, was horrified when she read the news on Inside Croydon this week about the delays over the reopening of Croydon Arena.

Fraser tweeted, “No, no, no… this cannot happen! This is a lifeline for many in the area!

And Croydon FC, who are due to begin the new football season from September 1, have responded to the uncertainty over their home ground by asking their league to arrange for all their fixtures to be away for the first month.

It will be a while before Trams fans will have a home game in the new season

It will be an obvious disadvantage not to have any home games for at least four weeks, but with the council and GLL, the operators of Croydon Arena, providing no undertakings about when the stadium will be ready to be used again, the football club felt they had no alternative.

It means the club will be denied even the modest income that they derive from entry tickets and bar takings at their home fixtures at the venue in South Norwood.

And without an agreed and approved home ground, Croydon’s place in in the Southern Counties East Football League could even be in jeopardy.

Croydon played their first pre-season friendly yesterday – away, of course – at Erith, winning 4-1.

But before that game, they issued a statement saying, “With no clear reopening date of Croydon Arena, we have requested a later start date of hosting home fixtures to October 2020, which has been approved.

“We look forward to working with Croydon Council, GLL, Croydon Harriers, Wheels for Wellbeing and other site users in making the whole site safe, welcoming and ready for the return of sport in 2020.”


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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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