With the financial disparity between football’s elite and the sport’s grassroots levels continuing to widen, non-league clubs such as Cirencester Town FC, are constantly searching for new ways to make them-selves sustainable. For the EVO-STIK League South club, this meant exploring the benefits of the latest technology for their new pitch – from top to bottom.
The club’s motto, “Providing football for all”, had seen it pioneer the concept of the youth academy some 25 years ago, as well as forge close links with nearby Cirencester College. Since then however, the limitations of its facilities had left it with no option but to turn promising young players away to Swindon, Cheltenham, or Gloucester.
In the club’s bid to become more financially and environmentally sustainable, its chairman, Steve Abbley, identified the potential for an artificial grass pitch to reduce the impact of poor weather on fixtures and training schedules, while simultaneously creating a new revenue stream through hiring the pitch out to local third-parties.
The Centurions embarked on a fundraising mission which saw them successfully apply for a grant through The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. Having also secured sponsorship from the club’s chairman, one of its key local sponsors, and Cirencester College over a two-year period, Cirencester Town FC soon had the funding – and the local interest – to invest in a new, full-sized 3G pitch.
Scott Griffin, Football Secretary at Cirencester Town FC, commented: “As part of our planning process and funding application, we needed to forecast the number of hours the new pitch would be used for each week, as well as demonstrate that we could support the investment with a viable business model. Having also sourced expressions of interest from local clubs and organisations, we realised we could accommodate a staggering amount more usage per week, compared to the four hours we could allow on the natural grass pitch. This in turn helped us to prove that a new 3G pitch wouldn’t just benefit the football club, but would be a huge asset to the local community as a whole.”