Brera FC play FC United of Manchester in the 2023 Fenix Trophy 3rd place play off at the San Siro

Enfield Town prepare for Fenix Trophy experience

Enfield Town Football Club are readying themselves for their very first competitive European fixtures this season as they prepare for the Fenix Trophy, a UEFA-approved tournament involving non-professional clubs selected for their unique stories.

The first supporter-owned club in the country, Enfield have been invited for the competition’s third edition which features 12 clubs from 10 different nations.

They have been drawn in Group A alongside current champions BK Skjold from Denmark and South Wales outfit Llantwit Major FC.

BK Skjold already have a tenuous link to one half of North London through Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who started his youth career at the club.

Enfield have previously formed a close connection with fellow Fenix participants FC United of Manchester and Belgian side KSK Beveren, with the clubs finding common ground over their fan-owned status.

Indeed, it is a duo of friendlies against the Belgian team that means that this is not The Towners’ first European foray, although it will be their first competitive fixture, with the Fenix Trophy getting UEFA’s approval.

Enfield director Gabriel Meytanis, who has been spearheading their involvement in the competition, is looking forward to widening the club’s reach.

Meytanis said: “It is very exciting – it is a good opportunity to forge new links, welcome new clubs and showcase what our club has to offer.

“We hope to make the Fenix Trophy fixtures as special as we can.”

The tournament is organised and run by Italian side Brera FC who have participated in the two previous editions.

However, having disbanded their Italian team to focus on an international multi-ownership model which has seen them acquire clubs in North Macedonia, Mozambique and Mongolia, Brera go into the 2023/24 competition in a purely organisational capacity.

Leonardo Aleotti, the club manager at Brera FC, is keen to maintain the distinction between professional and non-professional club culture.

He said: “I want to avoid flaws from professional football such as nepotism. Financial motive should be completely absent, people are choosing to play football.

“It is all about replacing the value of money with the experience of something unique.

“Non-professional clubs spend money on making the football environment more pleasant not the players richer.”

Keen on expansion, Aleotti spent last summer finding a southern English team to partner FC United of Manchester in the competition, eventually recruiting two in the form of Enfield and fellow Isthmian Premier outfit Lewes FC.

Aleotti said: “Enfield are trailblazers for fan-owned governance. I want to give visibility to a number of stories to show the best practices in non-professional football.”

Clubs are currently working towards agreeing fixtures, working around travel requirements and domestic calendars to ensure that all commitments are met.

Lewes FC have withdrawn from the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup, primarily due to their Fenix Trophy fixtures, but there are no plans for Enfield to do the same for the Middlesex equivalent.

The location for this year’s final has not yet been decided either although it will be in Italy.

Last year’s final four played at the San Siro in Milan in front of a crowd of over 1000 people.

Feature picture credit: Mike Bayly/Terrace Edition

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