BRIGHTER times lie ahead for Rugby Town FC after its new state-of-the-art floodlights were switched on.
The club launched an urgent appeal in August when it emerged the 30-year-old floodlights at its Butlin Road stadium were nearing the end of their life.
Rugby Town secured a £29,500 grant from the Premier League-funded Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) – and supporters stepped up to help raise an extra £5,000.
The brand new four-column modern lighting system – switched on by Rugby MP Mark Pawsey and Mayor Belinda Garcia on Saturday (February 3) ahead of the match against Worcester City – will better illuminate the pitch, improve supporters’ views and ‘future-proof’ the club if it gets promoted to higher divisions.
The lights will not only benefit first team players, but also youth teams as members of the Midland Floodlit Youth League – and future members of the club’s planned Youth Academy.
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.
Club director Michael Yeats said: “The new floodlights enhance the stadium by replacing an ageing floodlight system, and enable 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.”
Mr Pawsey said it was an honour to switch on the new floodlights.
He said: “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.”
FSIF chairman Peter McCormick OBE said: “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.”