A landmark milestone for Horsham has seen them sign a deal for the construction of their new clubhouse, but they have called for patience as they promise to deliver the ‘finest non-league facility around’.
They have now announced the ‘final piece of the jigsaw’ by signing a contract with major building firm Reside Construction to build the clubhouse on the site off Worthing Road.
It is another significant step in the saga of the long-suffering Hornets being homed in the town again.
Although with this latest announcement, the club has warned supporters that the original estimated completion time of early 2019, now looks likely to be pushed back to May - in reality a small setback after a nomadic decade.
A third attempt to gain planning permission at Hop Oast was finally granted by Horsham District Council last March signalling the start of a new home for the club ten years after they left Queen Street.
The new clubhouse will comprise a dividable function suite with bar, Sky TV, a professional kitchen, state-of-the-art dressing room facilities for home and away teams and officials, together with a reception, club office and a small retail unit for sales of club merchandise.
The site has transformed from a derelict field to having the community training pitch completed, the car park built, most of the sub-ground infrastructure in place and the main pitch ready to be surfaced.
The grandstand should be arriving on site within the next two weeks and the club is hopeful of being able to provide the community pitch for use by the club’s junior teams and first team training before the end of the year.
Horsham director and CEO John Lines said: “The clubhouse contract was the final piece of the jigsaw that will see the Hornets into their new home. Our supporters have been waiting a very long time to see this happen and I am delighted to report that groundwork will begin as early as next week.
“I have to say a very loud word of thanks to our project manager Robin Bishop of technical development Services who has not only been a joy to work with, but has been thoroughly professional in directing the build programme to date with his invaluable expertise and technical understanding.”
While the hope was to see the club play at their new home in the current 2018/19 season, that is now looking unlikely. Instead they hope to be better placed for the following season.
Lines said: “It may be a disappointment in some ways not to be open for business in 2018/19, but far better for everyone to have the ground 100 per cent ready and give us the time to plan a spectacular opening with a high-profile top club as opposition for the first game.
“It will also give us time to prepare a programme for use of the facility by other local and community clubs as well as hiring to the general public.
“We have received enquiries from a substantial number of clubs, individuals and community-based schemes asking about using the facility. We also want to develop further our own youth set-up to encourage more local boys and girls to become involved with the club.”
The club is also keen to start a girls’ team and develop a Sixth Form Football Academy and are in discussions with a prominent university who have a fantastic track record in combining academic achievement with sport.
Horsham chairman Kevin Borrett said: “It is vital for the long-term sustainability of the club that we get the business plan up-and-running, without the added pressure of worrying whether the ground will be ready with all the necessary safety approvals for only a few games at the end of this season.
“To hold back the opening date is a sound business and commercial decision which ensures we will be giving our supporters and the public, exactly what they want, expect and deserve.
“We are presently in talks with potential sponsors for the ground naming rights among other vital financial considerations. We have waited a long time for this moment; heartache turned to joy, so I ask our friends and supporters to be patient and you will have the finest non-league facility around.”
Reside director Kevin Hayter added: “We are very pleased to have been appointed by Horsham Football Club to build the wonderful clubhouse at the new home of the Hornets.
“We very much look forward to working alongside both the club and the design team to provide the best of facilities that will be enjoyed for many years to come.”