The funding has enabled the club, who play in in the Midland Football League Premier Division at Step 5, to install a state-of-the-art floodlight system at its Butlin Road home. This has replaced Rugby Town FC’s existing floodlights, which had been installed over 30 years ago and were no longer fit for purpose.
This will not only benefit the club’s first team players, but also its youth teams as members of the Midland Floodlit Youth League. Additionally, the club now hopes to develop its youth team structure with a view to introducing a new Youth Academy in due course. This will enable them to further support the development of the local game.
The site is also used by the Rugby and District Football League for Cup finals, as well as for Warwickshire County Cup fixtures for the local schools. Like Rugby Town FC, they will also benefit from the improved safety that the new floodlights will provide.
The project was made possible by a £29,552 grant from the Premier League, which is delivered through the Football Foundation – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.
This is the second grant Rugby Town FC has received from the FSIF. Previously, the club also received £98,190 towards the refurbishment of their changing rooms in 2013. This takes the Premier League’s overall investment in the club to £127,741.
Funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation – is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby, said: “It’s an honour to switch on Rugby Town FC’s new floodlights for their official unveiling, and I’d like to thank them for inviting me to do so. The club is an integral part of the community here, so it’s great news to hear of how this stadium upgrade is going to benefit not only its first team, but also its youth players.
“It’s vital that money from the top of the game makes its way down, in an effort to give back to the lower levels. The Premier League, through the FSIF, is at the forefront of this. Their funding is being used to improve the quality and safety of non-league stadia, benefiting clubs just like Rugby Town FC.”
Michael Yeats, Club Director, said: “The grant provided by the FSIF for the installation of new floodlights was very important for the club moving forward. It further enhances the stadium facilities by replacing an ageing floodlight system and enables the club to be well placed to seize every opportunity in the future to progress upwards in the non-league pyramid.
“Non-league football is an excellent platform for young players to develop. With the proper facilities young players, particularly those experiencing the disappointment when released from professional clubs’ Academies, can be given every chance to rebuild their chosen career, but most importantly the opportunity is there for them to remain in the game. Hence the importance of the funding provided each year by the Premier League for the development of lower league football grounds.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am very pleased to hear of Rugby Town FC’s latest stadium upgrade, in the shape of their brand new floodlights. The flexibility and improved safety provided by the new lighting system will have such a positive impact on the club, which is already working hard to offer opportunities to local people via the game.
“This is just one of many examples of the Premier League’s commitment to improving the standard of lower league infrastructure. Their money is used across the country to provide safer, more comfortable environments for clubs – helping them to support and develop their players more effectively.”