Floodlights set for upgrade thanks to Football Foundation grant

THE Football Foundation have provisionally approved an application from the GFA for a £100,000 grant to go towards the renovation of local floodlights.

Matches have not been played under floodlights at the Corbet Field since the 2020-21 season. (31086450)
Matches have not been played under floodlights at the Corbet Field since the 2020-21 season. (31086450)

Belgrave Wanderers, St Martin’s, Vale Rec and Northerners are the four clubs set to benefit from the funding.

‘Vale Rec have already been unable to use their floodlights for the last year and the other three clubs seem to be on the verge of going the same way,’ said GFA chief executive Gary Roberts.

‘We want all the clubs to be able to upgrade to the latest LED systems.

‘I started having conversations with the Football Foundation, but normally they do not provide funding for fixed floodlights at clubs at our level.

‘I put forward the case and tried to demonstrate that we have slightly more bespoke needs over here and how much of a disaster it would be if we were not able to play any games under floodlights each season.

‘There are 150 games in midweek over the course of the season, so if we lose them then two youth leagues and two adult leagues would disappear.

‘So I created a business plan, collected all of the stats and thankfully they have agreed to the funding.

‘We have a lighting specialist coming over in August with a view to getting some of the renovations under way in autumn and the aim is to get the grounds ready by the Island Games.

‘North, Saints and Bels should hopefully get the extra money they need to renovate their lights after the grant, although Vale Rec will probably require a little bit more money.’

Rec’s Brian Tyrrell said the club had lost three lightbulbs over the past few years. They had tried to buy new bulbs before finding out they had been discontinued.

‘We managed to buy one for £1,000 from China, but we then lost another bulb and took the decision that it would be too big of a risk to play last season knowing that losing any more would mean the pitch would have been shut down.

‘This grant will be fantastic for local football and Gary Roberts has been great – we are so appreciative for his help.’

Bels’ club secretary Martin Le Cras said: ‘It is great news for us and for the three other clubs.

‘We have already spent £30,000 getting the switchgear changed as we were having a lot of problems and the funding that is set to come in means we will be able to get the lamps replaced, which is the final bit really.

‘We have been using the current ones for so long and they are extremely worn down, so it will be great to get it updated and hopefully the new ones can last another 30 years.

‘Gary Roberts has been absolutely instrumental in helping to secure the funding.

‘We think it will cost around £50,000 to do the renovations and, of course, the grant will only provide us with £25,000 so now the question is, how do we raise the rest?

‘We are definitely more hopeful now after the approval for the grant, though.’

North vice-president Wayne Martel said the club are ‘delighted’ that provisional approval had been given and that they are ‘committed to making the renovations if they are affordable’.

‘The one thing we have to consider is the difference between the grant we receive and the total costs of the new floodlights because there will be a difference, but it is something we as a club would like to do.

‘It is also great to see the clubs working together and working with the GFA to try and get everything approved.

‘I think it is absolutely vital to have these facilities in good shape.

‘There are so many fixtures over the course of the season and so many of them would not be able to be played without grounds that have floodlights.’

Ben Hunter, who is the club director at Saints, said that the grant would be ‘extremely helpful’.

‘We need to fit 16 new bulbs and bolts, which would lead to a huge improvement in the lighting.

‘We would not be able to do any of that without the grant.’

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