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How to prepare for a full-sized stadium pitch installation

By admin on September 1, 2017

A growing number of football clubs from grassroots to elite level are looking to maximise pitch usage and explore new revenue streams, which is leading many to explore the benefits of a 3G pitch. Yet with this opportunity comes the need for clubs to prepare fully prior to any installation work taking place.

Following the recent installation of a full-sized artificial grass pitch at Cirencester Town FC’s Corinium Stadium, Football Secretary, Scott Griffin, runs through some of the key considerations the club had to make beforehand.

1. Secure funding

While the cost of a 3G football pitch will require significant investment by a club of any size, funding can be acquired from a number of different sources. We were lucky enough to secure a grant from The Premier League & FA Facilities Fund, which is a route well worth exploring for any grassroots club with strong ties to the local community.  After all, it’s largely down to each individual club to raise the funds themselves.

Our grant may have covered the majority of the cost, but we also secured sponsorship from the club’s chairman, one of our key local sponsors, and the local College – all of whom are able to benefit from the availability of the new pitch now it’s up and running.

2. Act like a business, not a sports club

Arguably, the key to securing funding is to think like a business, which means putting your bottom line, return on investment, and the needs of your target market first.

The Football Foundation requests evidence of a viable business model of as part of any grant application. We were able to obtain expressions of interest from local clubs and organisations, which really helped our cause and proved that we would be able to hire out the pitch to generate extra income.

3. Communicate openly

There’s no question that installing a full-sized 3G football pitch is a big commitment, so it is vital everyone is pulling together towards the same goal. As a members’ club, our chairman had the opportunity to discuss the prospect of having an artificial pitch and then prompt a vote among members on the best course of action. In our case, everyone was in agreement, which made the transition from natural to artificial that bit smoother.

4. Be patient

Competition for funding is extremely high, as is the pile of paperwork required to apply for it! If you’re a club intending to apply for external funding, be patient as the process doesn’t happen overnight. For us, it took two years from the initial application to the installation of our new pitch, but the wait was well worth it.

5. Remember: low maintenance, not no maintenance

Once the project was given the go-ahead, our contractors did the rest, but that’s not to say they will always be on hand over the lifespan of the pitch. We’re fortunate enough to have a full-time groundsman, who is tasked with ensuring an artificial grass maintenance programme is followed to keep the pitch looking and performing to its full potential. A 3G pitch may not need quite as much TLC as natural grass once the season is well underway, but it does still need a certain amount of looking after. 

6. Enjoy!

Last, but by no means least, be sure to enjoy the process! Having an artificial grass pitch will prove to be a great investment, for both the club and the local community. Plenty more sport can be enjoyed in the 38 hours’ usage a 3G pitch allows, than the four or so hours per week we were able to use our natural grass for, so everyone’s a winner. Watching from the stands, I get jealous that I don’t get the opportunity to play on it more often myself!

Find out more about Cirencester Town FC’s new 3G pitch.

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