COVID-19 bane halt work on ‘The Bees’ new hive in Brentford


Brentford Stadium April 2020 update Image: Brentford FC

As COVID-19 onslaught continues globally, bulk of the work on Brentford Community Stadium at Brentford in United Kingdom has been halted with the Championship club saying it is not possible to “reliably forecast” when the venue will be complete. Brentford says it will soon review the construction work scenario.

Brentford Community Stadium is a stadium currently under construction in Brentford, West London, with a projected capacity of 17,250. It is planned to be the home of Brentford F.C. and London Irish Rugby Club.

Brentford F.C. is a professional association football club based in Brentford, Greater London, England. London Irish Rugby Football Club is a professional English rugby union club, with an Irish Identity. Brentford currently plays at Griffin Park. Griffin Park is a football ground in Brentford, situated in the London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London. It has been the home ground of the Championship club Brentford F.C. since it was built way back in 1904.

Work on the new venue was temporarily halted after EcoWorld London, which is delivering the stadium project, decided to close construction sites under its control “until further notice”.

Only essential works are on at the facility to make certain it remains safe and secure, and Brentford disclosed that they will assess the situation later in the month.

Brentford was all set to move into the new stadium for the start of the 2020-21 seasons but the worsening COVID-19 situation which led to the postponement of professional football in England has raised questions over whether this will be the case.

Brentford Chief Executive Jon Varney and Chairman Cliff Brown said in an open letter to fans that the stadium was due to achieve “practical completion” in April ahead of the club’s move to the facility in July.

The letter added, “Last week Buckingham Group, stadium principal contractor to the developer, EcoWorld, had to take the serious, but prudent decision, to urgently pause the bulk of the works underway to allow time for the position to be assessed. This was a very important action and was fully supported by both the club and by EcoWorld with who we are in constant dialogue.”

The letter added, “At its recent peak over 400 people was traveling to and from work on the stadium site each day. In light of current Government COVID-19 guidelines, Buckingham Group has now decided that it is imperative that they dramatically scale back activity at the stadium site for the present and this has been implemented.”

The letter informed, “Subject to review again in two weeks’ time it is intended that for now works will be mainly targeted at electrical safety, care and maintenance and security areas and any activities will be conducted strictly in accordance with current Government COVID-19 guidelines. The absolutely minimum and essential requirement during this period is to ensure, as far as possible, that the site is made and kept safe at all times especially in respect of hazardous unfinished electrical installations and, where feasible, other dependent critical live safety and related systems.”

“Given the evolving situation regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic it is not possible at this stage to reliably forecast when the new stadium will be fully complete,” the letter concluded.

Brentford also revealed that it has taken the decision to furlough several of its staff through the Government’s COVID-19 job retention scheme, with employees “simply unable” to carry out their day-to-day duties from home.

The wide-ranging stadium development will also incorporate a purpose-built location for the Brentford F.C. Community Sports Trust, as well as a public square enjoying shops, cafes and eateries, and more than 900 new homes for sale and rent.

But, construction work on the Lionel Road site has been “scaled back” in line with Government guidelines.

The Bees’ say they have already sold more than 6,000 season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign in the new stadium.

In an open letter to supporters on behalf of the Brentford Board, the Championship club also confirmed that players have “agreed to defer a significant proportion of their wages” until football can safely resume.

Premiership rugby union club London Irish are also due to move to Lionel Road next season as tenants after 20 years playing at Reading’s Madejski Stadium (in UK).

The major part of work which still remains incomplete involves interior fixtures and fittings. But the site also includes the construction of a number of residential and commercial buildings with more than 400 people working on it when stadium construction work was at its peak.

Brentford’s last match at Griffin Park, their home for 116 years, was due to be against Barnsley on May 2, 2020, but all English Football League fixtures have been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus affliction.

Coronavirus count

UK is struggling to contain coronavirus and its death count stands to date at 11,329 and its coronavirus cases are 88,621.

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