Football can’t survive on just the money you get through the gate and the bar and you have to think out of the box and generate other income, says Whitstable Town chairman Steve Clayton
WHITSTABLE TOWN chairman Steve Clayton says the club are still on track to install a 3G pitch at Belmont Road but the current coronavirus pandemic has delayed laying one until next summer.
The Isthmian League South East Division club have been using lockdown to spruce up the 132-year-old stadium and even first-team manager Lloyd Blackman has been using this time in assisting the club with maintenance duties.
An online fundraising project has helped the club purchase a new tractor and water irrigation system to help groundstaff maintain the pitch, which withstood one of the wettest football seasons on record during the truncated 2019-21 campaign.
“One of the questions that has been asked of me, is what’s happening with the 3G pitch,” Clayton said in an interview on the club website.
“We’re still on track and we still have that ambition to have a 3G pitch, so we can get more playing hours down there and the club can be self-funding, all the reasons we said originally.
“Obviously, with the pandemic that has set things back a little bit on our schedule, but we’re still on track to achieve our goals of getting a 3G installed and it is progressing nicely.
“We’ve still got a grass pitch and it has to be ready for when the football starts and a lot of that equipment will still be needed for that 3G pitch, which needs a lot of maintenance and work when you have one of those to keep it to the standard needed.
“I have spoken to a number of clubs before we went down this path and asked them what are the benefits that they’re getting out of the pitch?
“One of the things that is very apparent is that football can’t survive on just the money you get through the gate and the bar and you have to think out of the box and generate other income. You rely on your sponsors to bridge that gap but you have to do other things and the 3G pitch will be a big part of that.”
Meanwhile, well-wishers have raised over £5,000 online to help the club purchase tools and equipment to ensure the playing surface is ready for the return of football.
A club statement said: “Thank you to everyone that has contributed, as it really has made a difference to the club during these testing times.
“The total was boosted by great contributions from some of our younger players who took on different challenges to raise money.
“Dexter Dean raised over £1,000, whilst Jack and Theo Santer made £1,320 which was split between the NHS and three local sports clubs, of which £210 was donated to the football club.
“The money has been put towards an improved irrigation system for the pitch and ground maintenance equipment for the senior and youth sections.”
To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/whitstable-town-fc-supporters-and-community
Visit Whitstable Town’s website: www.whitstabletownfc.club