Watford football club have begun official talks with council officers about a potential stadium move.

The Observer understands club representatives have made contact with Hertsmere Borough Council about a move from Vicarage Road to Bushey Hall Golf Club.

It comes a few months after a design for a new stadium was leaked, with the golf course also mentioned at the time.

Club sources say the potential move is in the “earliest stage of the planning process”, and that the golf course is one of a number of sites being looked at.

But so far, the club has only undertaken pre-application advice with Hertsmere, with Bushey Hall understood to be a site that appears to meet most of Watford’s criteria.

Pre-application advice is normal practice in any planning applications – particularly major ones - and any new stadium, wherever it is, would require planning permission.

The discussions Watford have paid to have with the council could help to identify any hurdles the club may potentially face if they were to decided to go ahead – although at this stage, we’re told the conversations the club is having with the council is just to “scope out the opportunity” in Bushey.

The Observer understands that Watford are pressing ahead with the same designs that were leaked earlier this year – and the club is working with the same architects who designed Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

Watford Observer:

The club is also understood to be working with industry experts on how it would bring crowds in without disrupting the surrounding community.

The carbon neutral stadium proposals, which could include a single-tier Kop similar to the one at Spurs, would be set within what club sources are describing as a “country park” if it decided to push ahead in Bushey.

Watford’s current stadium, Vicarage Road, is one of the smallest in the Premier League and the club faces challenges to grow and upgrade its existing site.

Watford Observer:

Vicarage Road. Credit: Action Images

Watford Observer:

Credit: Action Images

This map shows the distance between Watford's current home, Vicarage Road, and Bushey Hall Golf Club 

Financially, the club are believed to not be in a position to make any major decisions at the moment, with Premier League broadcasting revenue vital to their future projects. Whether or not they are able to go ahead with the move could be dependent on them avoiding relegation this season.

However, owner Gino Pozzo is understood to be keen to continue his investment in the club as part of his plans to further establish them within the top flight.

Bushey Hall Golf Club, in Bushey Hall Drive, is privately owned and currently vacant after golf club members left at the end of 2019.

Owners Veladail Leisure Ltd, are demolishing the clubhouse and replacing it with 32 flats.

Watford Observer:

This clubhouse is being demolished

Watford Observer:

A view out onto the golf course from the clubhouse

One petition has already been created by the Conservatives in Bushey opposing a stadium at the green belt golf course site. More than 2,000 people have signed so far.

A senior councillor at Hertsmere Borough Council, Councillor Paul Morris, mentioned a potential stadium in Bushey during a public presentation he gave on June 10.

Bushey Heath’s Cllr Morris, who is in charge of the council’s economic development, gave an overview of current activities in Hertsmere and key issues within their portfolio for the coming year.

He told the Observer that within this presentation, he discussed three major proposals.

These were plans for a Sky Studios in Borehamwood, which is due to be decided on in the coming months, proposals for a data centre in the borough, and a potential new football stadium for Watford FC in Bushey.