‘The Hornets’ mulling to fly from Vicarage Road hive


New Watford Stadium - Vicarage Road Image: Watford FC

The English professional football club – Watford Football Club – are exploring the option of moving away from their present residence – Vicarage Road Stadium at Watford in England.

It seems that the club is mulling to relocate as their current home is nearing a century in operation. Media reports stated that Watford is considering leaving Vicarage Road for a brand new stadium over the coming years.

The new stadium’s site sits under 2 km north-east of the facility, with a golf course currently sitting on the potential site. The exact capacity of the venue is not known but it should well exceed 30,000. It would in, all likelihood, multiply the space for hospitality, retail and other sources of revenue.

The new home of ‘The Hornets’ could come up at Bushey Hall Golf Club.

The Vicarage Road Stadium is among the smallest stadiums in Premier League and can fit in 22,000 spectators. An average crowd of nearly 21,000 mean it’s time to grow. It is not that the stadium has not grown. In 2014, the new east stand was added and a year later 1,000 more seats were added. Then the north-east corner followed.

In late 2019, Watford hired the services of global architecture firm Populous to add a second tier over both the east and west stands. Combined, this would bring Vicarage Road’s capacity to over 30,000, possibly 32,000. The plan damage stands at £40 million (€46m/$52m).

Vicarage Road has severe spatial issues and after the latest phase of expansion it is hard to figure out where extra seats can be accommodated.

In October last year, it was disclosed that Populous — the designers of Tottenham Hotspur’s stunning £1 billion stadium — was asked to examine ways and means to expand Watford’s existing home. It now appears that they have also been working on designs at an alternative location, believed to be to the east of the town at Bushey in UK, half a mile further from Watford Junction Station than Vicarage Road.

Media reports stated that it is part of a clear strategic vision for Watford’s growth, but the club’s immediate focus remains on preserving their Premier League status with 10 games remaining and the fight against relegation. This means official version from the club cannot be expected. However, they remain committed to looking at ways of growing the club, including the possibility of expanding the stadium.

The Hornets’, who rely heavily on top-flight revenue for financial stability, are presently locked in a relegation battle.

Relegation would certainly cast a long shadow over new stadium plans, given the money that would be involved.

‘The Hornets’ have made the Vicarage Road Stadium their home for the last almost 100 years with the facility having opened on August 30, 1922. The club is keen to expand further following several recent redevelopments.

Watford will continue its endeavor to develop Vicarage Road, but other options will be on the table as long as it is sensible to do so.

Since the Pozzo family took over the reins of the club in 2012, they have shown their firm commitment to develop the facility by building the Elton John Stand and continuing to boost the facilities.

The club recently submitted plans to Watford Borough Council to add 537 seats at Vicarage Road in the corner between the Sir Elton John Stand and the Rookery End.

However, any larger scale expansion of Vicarage Road – or development of any other stadium site – would need the cooperation of all relevant authorities.

Bushey Hall Golf Club, in Hertsmere, is currently vacant after members left one of Hertfordshire’s oldest courses towards the end of 2019.

Members left in October because the historic clubhouse is to be demolished for 32 flats, with the scheme getting the nod in November 2017.

As part of the scheme, a new single-story clubhouse will come up.

Club Secretary Russ Ball said that he hoped the owner of the course would “honor his commitment” to reopen the club so that members could carry on the tradition that has been at Bushey Hall Golf Club for more than 100 years.

Bushey Hall Golf Club is owned by Veladail Leisure Limited, which bought the site way back in 1992.

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