Toolstation Western League
Published 15th July 2011
Keynsham Town are midway through a major upgrade to their Crown Field ground, which includes a Third Generation (3G) surface, new floodlights, security fencing, two five-a-side pitches and a car park revamp. The club boasts a string of senior, junior and girls' teams which will all benefit from the £500,000-plus overhaul. But it is the fact semi-professional football will be fought out for the first time on an artificial surface in the region that has turned heads.
The Crown Field pitches are frequently subjected to flooding problems during adverse weather, while the deteriorating state of the club's buildings and infrastructure has long concerned cash-strapped committee members.
Chairman Steve Nicholls enthused: "This is a hugely exciting time for the club. The pitch will be the best in the area to play on with a perfect roll and bounce. It is exactly the same surface Manchester United have at their Carrington training ground. "We started thinking about the project five years ago and that led to us securing a service contract with a local management company, which provided 80 per cent of the cost of the capital required to upgrade the ground. The Football Foundation supplied us the rest through grant money.
"This will become a huge community facility once it is ready in a few weeks' time.
"The pitch can be used continuously and will be hired out to local clubs and organisations, including schools, which means that over a period of ten years the management company will get a substantial return on their investment.
"In truth, our ground has been in disrepair for some time and we needed to come up with something that would provide some financial sustainability going forward."
Keynsham's first-team perform in the Western League First Division and league secretary Ken Clarke confirmed: "They are our first member club to go down this avenue and it offers an opportunity for more matches to be played during the wet winter months when many others will have to be cancelled. The 3G pitches are brilliant - they are very close to a natural surface and nothing like the old plastic ones that QPR, Luton Town and the like played on back in the 1980s.
"The FA has accepted them into competitions such as the FA Vase and I understand they're exploring the possibility of introducing them into FA Cup competition."