Tuffley Rovers might have struggled to retain their place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division this season but they have taken a massive step in improving their long-term future, after they completed the purchase of their home ground, Glevum Park, yesterday.
In addition, the Gloucester club have recently been able to secure planning permission to support developments to their ground, which will help ensure that it meets strict FA Ground Grading criteria for clubs at Step 5 of the non-league game.
The purchase of Glevum Park from owners National Grid, less a year before the expiry of their current lease, was supported by a successful grant application to Sport England and has taken almost two years of careful negotiation and planning.
Executive Chairman, Neil Brinkworth, explained “We have had some really positive discussions and negotiations with National Grid. Although we had some initial concerns about securing the club’s future at our home, everything has gone to plan and the site owners, as well as their agent Capita, have been incredibly helpful in supporting this deal to be completed.”
Mr Brinkworth also had a special thank you for Sport England, who have provided significant funding support which has made the deal possible. “Without the incredibly generous grant which Sport England have been able to award, we would have struggled to raise the funds to meet the costs associated with this project”, he explained.
“With their backing, however, we will now be able to see football played at this site for the foreseeable future, as it has been for over 30 years.”
The bonus news has been confirmation of the planning permission that will allow Rovers to make further improvements to the facilities at their home ground. “Following our promotion last year, we have a limited timeframe in which to undertake improvements to the site. The majority of those works have now been completed but the club could not risk spending money on the more significant works until the site was legally our own”, said Secretary, Neil Spiller.
“We now need to ensure that we have a standing area for a minimum of 100 spectators in place before the Hellenic League AGM in June. Proposals have already been developed and we now need to get on with the work at the earliest opportunity”, he added.
Rovers finished their league season in 17th position, the last of the four relegation places from the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division but their fate might not yet be sealed, if other clubs don’t have the necessary facilities to achieve promotion.
Irrespective of which division they will play in next year, Rovers intend to progress the works at the ground as far as they can before the visit of Aston Villa Old Stars on Sunday, 29 May, a game which has been arranged to support local charity The James Hopkins Trust.