Crawley Town training ground boost

jpco-10-10-12 Crawley Town FC Training Facility at Bewbush (Pic by Jon Rigby)
jpco-10-10-12 Crawley Town FC Training Facility at Bewbush (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Crawley Town this week entered ‘extremely positive’ discussions to secure funding for a proposed £1.5million training facility.

Chief executive Richard Low had a meeting with Sport England on Tuesday with the club seeking money to redevelop the problematic training ground at Bewbush.

“The meeting was extremely positive and although it’s very early days I have to say from the information I got from Sport England and the Council they are 100 per cent positive about the plans,” Mr Low said.

“Sport England aren’t the ones who actually hand out funding but they have put me in touch with their partners who do and those who have expertise in building 3G pitches and facilities like this.”

Mr Low outlined the plans at the Fans’ Forum on Monday night, saying they hoped to add two new grass pitches as well as a full-sized indoor pitch to the existing council-owned facility within the next five years at a cost of around £1.5million.

Mr Low emphasised the need for schools and the local community to benefit from the development, and said it was wholly dependent on acquiring the necessary funding, stressing the club would not get into any debt.

Despite moving to Bewbush in July last year Richie Barker’s side continue to have to train at a number of locations in the local area and Mr Low told those at Monday’s Forum: “The plan is to redo it or get out completely.”

In what was his first formal introduction to Reds supporters since taking over from Alan Williams, Mr Low said improving the ‘poor’ relationship the club has with its local community and increasing attendances were a top priority.

He said improving the overall match-day experience was key to attracting fans and promised to look into things like the quality of food served, but said regular fans could also do more.

“It’s necessary for us to get gates up and if we don’t have a relationship with the community we have no chance of doing that,” he said. ““I know it’s a touchy subject but this attitude that new fans are glory hunters concerns me. We need to welcome everyone with open arms.”

Mr Low said there were longer-term plans to increase capacity but not before average attendances had significantly risen.

Regarding the notoriously problematic Broadfield pitch he confirmed £180,000 would be spent in the summer to improve drainage and relay the top surface.

When asked about the possibility of the club again having a youth academy he said building it up again having scrapped it last year would be expensive and something that would not be considered until 2014.

Fielding a range of questions for a little over an hour Mr Low also said the tannoy system would be replaced, that current sponsors GFS would continue their kit deal next season and that they would be attempting to negotiate a deal to have matches live on BBC Sussex radio at the end of the current season.