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  • Ground News

    News about the ground.

    5 articles in this category

    1. 3G Pitch Build and Funding

      We are well progressed with our strategy to bring a 3G pitch to Gigg Lane this summer. In addition to more revenue, and avoiding pitch postponements due to the weather, it will give us a sporting facility which benefits the wider community, and promote active health throughout the borough.
      This update covers two issues, firstly the technical specifications and requirements for the installation and secondly how we propose to fund it.
      Technical Requirements
      We are grateful to Dave McNabb and his team for input into the type of surface we wanted the first teams to play on, and examples of good and bad artificial pitches they have experienced.
      3G, 4G, 5G?...
      We will be installing a 3G pitch, as those are the only ones which are currently permitted. We've been asked about 4G pitches but they don't really exist.
      The FA’s Third Generation Football Turf Guidance state: “At the moment there is no such thing as 4G or 5G. These are marketing terms used by companies. Some manufacturers may promote non-infilled products, but these have not received acceptance as a suitable football surface and often struggle to satisfy FIFA requirements.”
      You can read more below.
      3G, 4G Pitch Blog League Requirements
      We have chosen a FIFA Quality Pro pitch, which is the highest quality available. This is necessary as it is a requirement to have a Quality Pro pitch to play in the National League.
      You can read more about the relevant standards below.
      https://www.fifa.com/technical/football-technology/standards/footballs/fifa-quality-marks-explained?tch Technology StandardsFIFA Quality Marks Explained
      Reducing Rubber Crumb
      One issue which came across loud and clear from players was the need to reduce the amount of rubber crumb required on the pitch. Rubber crumb costs money, as it has to be topped up annually, and is subject to a lot of negative press.
      Historically 3G pitches were designed and built using 60mm pile height systems without a shock pad, this combination required 17 kilograms of rubber infill per square meter. Current industry best practice is to reduce the amount of rubber installed within the system. This is achieved with the inclusion of a shockpad and modern 3G turf technology. The proposed system has over 40% less rubber crumb in-fill at 10 kilograms per square meter.
      Our solution will achieve this significant reduction in rubber crumb. The pitch already has perimeter boarding which prevents the escape of the rubber crumb. You can read more on the best practice for this here.
      The Supplier
      We have chosen McArdle Sport Tec to install the pitch. They provided the most competitive price on a like for like basis and have a strong reputation and track record of delivery of similar projects. We obtained references from other clubs and the Football Foundation.
      The headline cost quoted is £652, 456.38 plus VAT.
      This includes all elements of the pitch build, plus the equipment required to use and maintain the pitch such as socketed goals and corner flags, a ride on tractor with brushes for maintaining the surface, specialist maintenance service visits to undertake deep decompaction works, and clearance of the site. It also includes the soil sampling which has already been paid for by the football club.
      This does not include any contingency for unforseen costs, but we have already paid for detailed soil sampling for depth, quality, and CBR values, which has informed the quote to ensure it is as accurate as possible at this stage.
      Income and Expenditure
      3G pitches all perform differently over time. The standard guideline is that 50 hours use per week for a 48 week year is appropriate, and we are working to that. The warranty is for 8 years and 20, 000 hours which also fits in with this usage limit.
      We are proposing a £45, 000 per annum contribution from pitch rental profits into a sinking fund which will fund the replacement of the pitch when required.
      Revenues of £130, 000 per annum (net of VAT) from pitch hire are achievable, based on charging a blend of rates and restricting usage to 50 hours per week over a 30 week period with a full maintenance programme in place. This is a relatively conservative estimate, using the Football Foundation's modelling tools. It leaves an additional 18 weeks where we could run community events throughout the summer, or we could blend these into peak times and extend the 30 weeks to 48. We are in discussions with Bury Council to understand their requirement for community use and best way to accommodate this.
      Maintenance costs are estimated at around £60, 000 per annum which includes the £45, 000 contribution to the sinking fund.
      Community Officer
      Core to the success of the new pitch is the provision of benefit to the wider community of Bury. This is key to both the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities requirements and also to Bury Council's funding. We know that the pitch will be successfully rented due to the huge demand for 3G pitch rental in the borough, but to ensure that the pitch is used to promote active health and lifestyle services to those who need it most, we propose to employ a Community Officer, and develop an outreach programme to ensure that these services reach people who would not typically come to the stadium. This is an additional cost which will be funded from profits but will also provide us with a resource to apply for additional funding for the delivery of these services. It should become cost neutral, or close to cost neutral, over time.
      The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) have approved our business plan and stated that they will transfer the remaining funds of £300, 000 allocated to us on completion of a long term lease which ensures that the club plays at Gigg Lane and the signing of the contract with the supplier.
      Bury Council have indicated they are comfortable with the allocation of their £450, 000 commitment to the pitch subject to the signing of the long term lease and meeting their own governance requirements. This includes the successful approval of an application which demonstrates community use, and agreeing how their investment will be governed ongoing. We are actively involved working this through with them. There is still a formal process to complete and we will respect that process.
      We have our own cash reserves which will be used to top up any funding gap, and provide a contingency in the event that costs increase due to unforseen events.
      We have received no further capital from the benefactors, who have objected to the use of a lease, which they believe devalues their own investment, but we have no alternative sources of capital so believe it is right to proceed to access the DLUHC and Bury Council funds. The lease does not require the football club to pay any rent, it simply imposes the obligation to pay bills and fund repairs and will collect stadium revenue. If we proceeded with Football Foundation funding for the pitch we would also have to put a long term lease in place. The lease will also fulfill our obligation to provide 'security of tenure' to the FA and league.
      We have opted not to apply to the Football Foundation at this point as their lead in time of 15 months means that we could not install the pitch this summer. Both financially and in terms of community benefit, the benefits of installing the pitch this summer outweigh the costs. We anticipate applying to the Football Foundation later in the year as we are able to apply for a higher amount of funding for stadium improvements if we are promoted.
      With the exception of the benefactors, all parties are comfortable with this direction of travel, although we acknowledge there is still a formal process to follow. We are grateful to all the organisations and individuals who have assisted in the project so far.
      Your Views
      We have been clear about the need for a 3G pitch for a long time, and it has been a major part of our planning and the grant funding received to acquire Gigg Lane. We are not required to run a member vote on this but want to seek approval and will issue an advisory vote to all members on this to assess that.

      • Dean
    2. 3G Pitch Build and Funding FAQ on Leasing

      FAQ on the Lease
      We would like to clarify a few points about the lease to cover any concerns.
      Q: Would you need a lease if the ownership of the club had changed as originally anticipated under the merger?
      A: Yes. If the ownership of the club had changed and the benefactors had put the money promised in, we would still need a lease or similar. Unless the football club directly owns the stadium we have to have a lease or a 'license to occupy' in place.
      There has been no structure discussed at any point where the club directly owns the stadium, and this is currently impossible to achieve as it can’t be transferred out of The Bury Football Club Company Limited under the Articles of Association for that company. We currently have a licence to occupy which is insufficient for funding purposes as it is very short term, lasting only a season.
      The league, having consulted with the FA, also advised us this week that a lease is preferable as it gives more security to the club. The email from the league states
      ‘Having viewed your proposed lease agreement and sought guidance from the FA who are aware of the legal structures that form Bury FC and that a holding company owns Gigg Lane. The general opinion is a long term lease rather than a annual licence is a good move and provides longevity of security for the football club. Just for clarity, and for compliance with the FA Standardised League Rules, the lease should be agreed and signed with a copy to the League Secretary by no later than 31st March 2024.’
      Q: Does a lease transfer ownership of the stadium to another company?
      No. A lease does not transfer the ownership of the stadium out of The Bury Football Club Company Limited. The freehold remains with that company. The suggestion that the stadium is being transferred to a new company is completely incorrect. We asked a law firm to confirm that this is the case for the avoidance of doubt, and that the granting of a lease does not contravene the Articles of The Bury Football Club Company Limited or its asset lock provisions. It does not. An excerpt of the response from the law firm is copied below:
      ‘There is a distinction to be made here between the lease of the stadium and the transfer of the stadium. The granting of a lease of the stadium doesn’t constitute a transfer of the asset from The Bury Football Club Company Limited (the Company) because there will be no transfer of the freehold title (HMLR title number GM931156, according to the lease we have been provided with) which is the asset for the purposes of the relevant article. The Company will remain the proprietor of Gigg Lane Stadium. The position would be different if it was proposed that the Company would be transferring its interest in the freehold but that isn’t the case here because the grant of a lease relates to the creation of a new proprietary interest and the Company’s existing proprietary interest remains in situ. The wording in the articles does not preclude the lease of any of the Company’s assets- only the transfer. We therefore do not agree with Matthew’s assertion that this provision prevents the Company from entering into the proposed lease.’
      Q: Does the club rent Gigg Lane?
      A: The society owns a controlling interest in both the stadium and the football club. They are both subsidiaries of the society, and we are required to make both a success. Internal legal agreements between subsidiaries are very common in business, and leases are used by other recipients of funding from the Community Ownership Fund. There is no rental payment under the lease, just an obligation on the football club to pay for maintenance and repairs.
      Q: What do other stakeholders think?
      The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have a charge on the ground for £1m for the 25 year term of their grant. They have reviewed the protections in place which would prevent the club as leaseholder endangering the security of the ground and are comfortable with them. They asked for two minor amendments to the lease which have been made, having agreed to it in principle.
      Bury Council have adopted the same position as the Football Foundation by requiring a long term lease to be in place prior to their funding. They have the same reasons as the FA and league, it gives greater security, and that gives greater certainty to investors. The stadium does not work without the football club playing there, as we saw from the £80k+ loss in the previous financial year. The football club continues to subsidise the stadium, a 3G pitch will help with this. Bury Council have kindly allowed us to copy their note to us below which make this very clear:
      ‘The Council is committed to working closely with the newly elected board and wider partners to discuss the progressing of plans for the transformation of the Gigg Lane stadium as a sustainable community asset.
      The Council has agreed to make a financial contribution to ensure the success of the principle of community ownership. Any plan for the Stadium should include the active use of the facility to bring benefit to the people of Bury outside of match days, this could be achieved through the provision of accessible sports facilities and the development of community facilities operating from within the stadium. 
      The delivery of this vision is not only compatible, but dependent on the issuing of a long-term lease to the football club. This will enable a football operation to be run from the Stadium, with the facilities being made available exclusively to the Club on match days, but at other times to also be operated as an active community sports facility. This was fundamental to the Council making an offer of funding to support the works needed to adapt and develop the Stadium. We also believe this is best possible way to attract additional external investment into the stadium and deliver the objectives of the Community Ownership Fund.
      It is therefore imperative that all partners work together to put a long-term lease in place for the football club, develop a community use and engagement plan, and begin the work of drawing in external funding.‘
      We hope this provides some useful clarification. The funding is 'dependent on the issuing of a long-term lease to the football club' amongst other terms which we need to agree with them.
      FAQ on Risks
      We have also been asked what are the key risks to the project and what are the mitigants. We have already undertaken an assessment of these and have copied them below.
      Key Risks
      1.       Delay in funding delays installation
      Probability: High Impact: High
      If we are unable to complete the order with the supplier by March we cannot install the pitch during the summer, will have missed the opportunity the apply to the Football Foundation for funding the following summer, and we assume we will lose the remaining £300, 000 from the Community Ownership Fund. We will also have missed the window for booking in suppliers for remediation work to the grass pitch and may struggle to complete the season as the current grass pitch is in a poor condition and requires considerable work. The requisite funds are available but there is a process to access these in time and Bury Council have no precedent for this so it is unclear. We also need to put the lease in place to access the Bury Council funding and this is awaiting a decision from DLUHC.
      Mitigation: Secure and agree funding terms from DHLUC and Bury Council by end February.
      2.       Pitch is not correctly installed and is unusable
      Probability: Medium Impact: High
      This would cause increased costs and potentially an inability to complete fixtures.
      Mitigation: We will ask the league to arrange away fixtures at the start of the season to allow more time should there be any minor delays. We have sourced an experienced supplier who can manage the whole process, rather than attempting to save cost with a higher risk supplier. The supplier has numerous reference sites, and we have spoken to Reading Football Club and Burton Albion who spoke highly of their work. They are based in Oxfordshire but have a representative local to Bury.
      3.       Pitch is not used by the community
      Probability: Low Impact: Medium
      If the pitch is used by the club but there is a lack of demand for use it will fail to meet its community objectives. With no Football Foundation funding there are no grant funding metrics we would need to adhere to but we expect Bury Council to want to see community benefit evidence for their funding.
      Mitigation: We have already researched demand for a 3G pitch in the area and it is high due to a lack of available pitches. There is a large deficit in the Bury Council area of 3G pitches based upon the Football Foundation and FA Football Facility Plan and Bury Council’s own Sports Facility Strategy. The future development of more 3G surfaces in the borough is unlikely to reduce this demand significantly and the stadium’s local status will undoubtedly give it a competitive edge over other facilities. Employing a community officer will ensure that the facilities are used by people who Bury Council wish to target for better health and may not be attracted to the stadium or football.
      4.       Income is short of expectation
      Probability: Low Impact: Low
      The revenues forecast are lower than we expect either through less usage or a need to reduce hire charges.
      Mitigation: We have already tested the rental charges and they are competitive when compared to other surfaces. We could increase costs and still attract a high level of usage. The combination of club and stadium has been trading at a profit without the new surface. We expect the community officer to create programmes that will be funded either through user ‘subs’ or through funded programmes, reducing the reliance on standard rental fees. Whilst lower revenues would reduce the ability to invest further it would not alter the financial viability of the club or stadium.  We could reduce the reliance on hourly rental fees and look to share the ground with another football club.
      5.       Pitch needs to be replaced faster than expected
      Probability: Medium Impact: Medium
      The pitch is no longer suitable for senior men’s football as it degrades faster than expected and fails league certification, or is considered unacceptable for some other reason.
      Mitigation: We have opted for a substructure which will perform better over time and be cheaper to replace when required. We will adopt a limit on usage similar to that used by the Football Foundation. We will use a sinking fund to provision for a replacement over time and aim to build this to around £320, 000. We have experience of ground-sharing which means that if critical repair work was required mid-season we could change stadium temporarily.

      • Dean
    3. Council to release £450k for new 3G pitch at Gigg Lane

      Council to release £450k for new 3G pitch at Gigg Lane | Bury Council (mynewsdesk.com)

      • Dean
    4. Patch the pitch!

      We’ve had a delivery at Gigg Lane this morning 🌱
      NW Pitch Maintenance will be kicking off works this afternoon and we’ll share some progress updates later today!

      • Dean
    5. Work Gets Underway at Gigg Lane

      The pitch at Gigg Lane has started to be removed ahead of the artificial 3G surface being laid this summer to be ready for the start of the 2024/25 season.
      Contractors McArdle Sport Tec began work last week by removing the top layers across the majority of the pitch before the deep dig occurs, and upgraded drainage is provided when the new base layers are installed.
      The works are due to be complete in early August, and whilst all of our pre-season games will need to be staged away from home, as well as the first couple of games of the season, we can't wait to have all of our teams based from Gigg for the first time. 

      • Dean
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