Monday, 6 February 2012

Bad weather = good news for 3G

Oliver Ash
The bad weather is back, turning thoughts to our future 3G synthetic pitch.

I noticed that Durham City played one of the few games to survive the weekend but Woodley did not - it snowed heavily just before kick off and not even 3G could cope with that. So even if it's not perfect 3G has proved its strength again this weekend and it will continue. 

We are leading the lobbying, as we said we would, in order to inform football people of the qualities and advantages of 3G, with a view to getting increasing acceptance of the surface at higher levels. We have now established a lobby group of clubs and so far have received nothing but positive replies from other clubs to the initiative. 

You will have seen the good news on the Football Stadia Improvement Fund grant. A special thanks to Mike Littleboy for his efforts on our behalf; he is a tenacious battler and never gives up: essential qualities on and off the field. 

I met Mike a few years ago when I first joined the club and saw how he and others worked hard on the first presentation to the FA. I originally agreed to help the club financially based on the 'hope' at the time that a major grant could be obtained. I was conscious of the risk. We had no other resources. 

Well it soon became clear that getting a £2 million grant for a stadium project (without a serious financial business plan to back it) was pie in the sky. It had nothing to do with whether we were a limited company or not, simply such substantial grants were not available for such projects. End of story. 

Except that fortunately it was not the end of the story. I was now attached to the club in every sense and Terry Casey swallowed hard and jumped in our direction at the last moment. The result is that 12 months later a well-conceived and prepared grant application was made for a much smaller amount, that we were confident of winning. Sincere thanks are due to the  Football Stadia Improvement Fund and the executives who believed in our project and backed us. 

The other sums needed for the stadium are being put into place, with other essential contributions from the supporters and our stadium sponsors the Gallagher Group. It's still challenging despite all these contributions because the overall cost will be around the £2 million mark. 

However the club will be on a strong footing as a result of the business model being developed: the revenue generated, once loans and running costs are covered, will be able to be reinvested sensibly to support the club's efforts on the field. But the model will only really work if you come in your hundreds to support your team and your club at The Gallagher Stadium.

Weather permitting I look forward to seeing many of you at Dulwich.