Newmarket Town confident stadium will be ready for Ryman League football next season

Newmarket 3G
Newmarket 3G

Newmarket Town secretary Graham Edwards is confident the Ridgeons Stadium will be ready to host Ryman League football next season.

The Jockeys were visited by The FA’s and Ryman League’s ground experts on Tuesday for an inspection to see if their stadium met the standard needed to play in step four of the non-league pyramid.

The Suffolk club reopened their stadium in July following a £750,000 refurbishment, which included the installation of a state-of-the-art cork-filled 3G artificial pitch and new LED floodlights.

In December Newmarket were revealed as one of four clubs from the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division (step five) to have applied for promotion to step four ahead of next season.

And with this week’s inspection of the Ridgeons Stadium highlighting improvements which are estimated to cost between £5,000 to £10,000, Edwards is hopeful the necessary infrastructure will be in place for the start of the 2017/18 season.

“We’re waiting for them (the FA and the Ryman League) to confirm it in writing, but we’ve got a list of little jobs which need doing,” the club’s secretary told the Journal.

“There’s nothing major on there but it’s a list we’ve got to work through now.

“Obviously once we get all the work done then it will be down to the team to win us promotion on the pitch.”

Among the list of alterations the club will need to make in order to meet the ground grading for step four, is the installation of toilets outside those already in the clubhouse.

According to the National Ground Grading - Category D list of requirements: ‘Toilets must be located within the ground and must be accessible both to male and to female spectators. Such toilets need not be in a dedicated toilet block but must be in addition to those used by people using the clubhouse.’

The club will also need to install a new turnstile, as the stadium needs at least two turnstiles to meet the Category D standard.

On the pitch, Newmarket are on course for their highest league finish in 50 years, with Kevin Grainger’s side heading into this weekend’s home clash with Fakenham Town occupying second place in the Premier Division table.

Last weekend’s 6-2 thrashing of Godmanchester Rovers helped propel Grainger’s side into second place and cut the gap on leaders Mildenhall Town to eight points.

“The changes have to be made ready for next season and I think we can achieve that,” Edwards said.

“Normally one team can get promoted into the Ryman League (from the Premier Division) and at the moment it’s Mildenhall who are in the driving seat.

“But we’re on their tails now and there are several teams in and around us, Felixstowe (& Walton United) and Gorleston as well.

“It could be any one of those four teams who ends up finishing top at the end of the season.”