Moving with the times
Time never stands still and, as if to reflect that, the CTFC Board is always mindful of how to move forward in the best interests of the Club. Decisions are never taken lightly and certainly not in such a way that they put the Club’s future financial stability at risk. Whilst some decisions are more significant than others, the Board always endeavours to act with due probity and regard for the Club’s long-term future though fully recognising that we can’t stand still if we want to progress.
Against that background, therefore, the Board has recently decided that it is in the Club’s long-term interests to convert the stadium’s existing grass pitch to an artificial surface. There are clear benefits in doing so as an artificial surface would allow increased usage of the stadium, something the Board has wanted to develop for some time. There has already been some community interest in our proposal as it is generally recognised there is a distinct shortage of this type of facility in the Chippenham area. We hope, for example, that local youth football teams would seek to take full advantage of the facility and consequently be drawn to following the Club as they progress through the various age levels. This could help to drive up attendances as parents and children become acquainted with the Club and what it can offer. From the Club’s perspective we will be able to save on training costs incurred by having to utilise training facilities elsewhere and we would look to co-locate the CTFC Academy. We anticipate our Ability Counts side will also benefit by having use of the facility.
This project is without doubt a major initiative and will mean our current plans for the development of the main gate area of the stadium will be put on hold as we focus on a new direction of travel. Although plans for the pitch conversion are in their infancy, levelling of the existing surface within permitted tolerances and some rebuilding of the pitch perimeter walls will be necessary. We hope to be able to secure a Football Foundation Premier League Stadia Fund grant to assist with the cost of the work and, to this end, an exploratory meeting has been held. If the outcome is favourable, the Club will be invited to submit a formal application in due course.
Clearly, there is a long way to go but we are pleased that Chippenham Sports Club, our leaseholder, supports our proposals. The National League has been given initial notification of the Club’s intentions and, subject to planning considerations, we anticipate work will commence immediately on the completion of the 2022/23 season. The new surface will be FIFA Quality Pro standard (as required by National League rules) and must be installed and certified fit for use before the start of season 2023/24.
The way ahead is seen as an important step to integrate the Club better with the local community by providing an acknowledged much-needed facility for the future as the town of Chippenham grows. It also chimes with the Club’s ethos of being a family friendly community club. For our fans, it will offer the chance to see even more football at the stadium and, if full advantage is taken, we expect this project to contribute to further ground development in years ahead. We hope our fans will see this initiative in the same light as the Board and give the project their full support.