We will be ready - that’s the message from AFC Portchester as work continues at the Crest Finance Stadium to prepare the site for its re-opening.
For now the pitch remains unused, the bars and function rooms empty and the gates locked to the public at the stadium.
However, that doesn’t mean the premises have fallen completely silent as work has been on-going to ensure that when the government advice on Covid-19 allows, the facilities will be in a position to be re-opened immediately.
Signage reminding people to obey the two metre social distancing rules wherever they are inside the stadium has been put up.
Protective plastic screening has been added to the catering unit currently open every day at the stadium’s entrance selling hot food and drinks, and it will be shortly added to the four bar areas inside the stadium’s function rooms.
Planning is also under way to ensure toilet facilities can be used safely both on match days and when functions and other activities are held on site.
The club’s plans also include ensuring hand sanitiser is available for visitors, introducing entrance and exit strategies for buildings and regular cleaning to ensure both visitors and club staff remain safe.
Chairman Paul Kelly has been keen for the club to take pro-active steps to be ready to re-open as soon as this is allowed, while also being able to adapt quickly to any new government rulings as they come along.
He explained: “We are obviously keen to re-open the stadium and its facilities to the public as soon as is possible but we want to ensure the safety of both the public and our staff when they are here.
“We are putting up signs everywhere in the stadium to remind people of social distancing guidelines and we will be introducing special measures when it comes to things like ordering drinks from the bar, using our toilet facilities and purchasing food and drink, as well as directing people on how they should enter and exit different parts of the site.
“In an ideal world we would not want to have to make these changes but we all need to recognise that for the foreseeable future we will all have to make changes in our everyday lives due to the coronavirus situation.
“However, that doesn’t mean that people won’t be able to still enjoy watching a football match here or celebrating a special occasion in one of our function rooms - the changes being made will ensure eventually we will be able to do these things again.
“We have already started work on making the changes we feel will be necessary to be able to open the site again to the public and we will also be in a position to react to any new rules and regulations as they come along.
“The safety and health of everyone who visits the Crest Finance Stadium is of paramount importance to us and we will take all the measures necessary to ensure both visitors and staff are able to enjoy a safe environment.
“For now, we await the changes in the government’s Covid-19 advice which will allow the stadium to be open again - and we can’t wait to welcome you all back to the Crest Finance Stadium.”
During the lockdown period work has continued on preparing the pitch for the 2020-21 season, with the help of Charlie Searle and Southern Ground Care.
Facilities at the stadium have also been used to support the local community during the coronavirus crisis. The club’s Covid-19 Mutual Support Group has been providing a food pantry and hot meals service from the stadium during the lockdown period.
Chairman Paul Kelly also gave his special thanks to Gary ‘Crippo’ Cripps for his continued support in helping him with facility improvements during the lockdown period.