VICE-CHAIRMAN Chris Reeves insists Poole Town remain on course to complete essential ground improvements to their Tatnam home despite a looming March 31 deadline.
Inspectors issued Dolphins with a lengthy to-do list in December for the ground to meet the Football Association’s (FA’s) C grade, the minimum standard to compete in the Southern League Premier Division.
Necessary work includes provision for extra covered seating, an additional turnstile, more toilets for supporters and permanent hard standing (concrete walkway) around all open areas of the ground.
Progress was stifled by a wait for planning permission and landlord’s consent with the subsequent restrictions raising doubts over the club’s ability to secure funding from the Football Foundation.
A new, single application for up to half of the reduced £200,000 cost has now been submitted with Poole granted permission to begin work prior to any award.
Reeves explained: “Because of the three-year condition on the planning permission, the Football Foundation had to go back to an FA panel.
“After being held back by various things, including the weather, we had to alter our initial application and refocus on the critical work for the C grade.
“We have been in regular touch with the Football Foundation over the past couple of weeks and with the timescales involved, we have been given a without prejudice letter to make a start.”
Turnstiles at the Well Lane end of the ground have been moved to join a hard standing path while the small stand behind the goal has been moved ready to accommodate extra seating.
The existing side stand will be made all-seater while extra seats and a turnstile have been sourced. A new stand, which will host up to 250 supporters, is being constructed off-site.
While the funding has yet to be rubber-stamped, Reeves was “optimistic” funds would be cleared and was “not aware of any problems” that could stand in the club’s way.
He added that the club would still be able to complete the necessary work if the cash injection was not forthcoming and remained hopeful that Poole’s improved social facilities would also be up and running before the deadline.
Meanwhile, Dolphins last night announced they would switch tonight's home match against Hungerford Town (7.45) to Wimborne Town's Cuthbury ground, subject to Southern League ratification.
Cherries striker Jordan Chiedozie is expected to extend his loan spell by another month in time to play.
Long-term absentee Richard Gillespie remains sidelined but boss Tom Killick hopes to have full-back Keith Emmerson available.
Dolphins: (from) Buchel, Emmerson, Martin, Charles, Whisken, Pettefer, Chiedozie, Bennett, Devlin, Elliott, Brooks, Preston, Cann, Spetch, Turner, Lowes, Davies, Dibba, Hutchings.