PARADE GROUNDSHARE: County appeal to fans to fund new pitch
NEWPORT County AFC have confirmed their new ten-year lease to play at Rodney Parade and appealed to supporters’ groups to help fund improvements to the playing surface.
As part of the deal with Newport RFC and Newport Gwent Dragons, County are committed to investing around £100,000 in the pitch.
It is hoped that half of that amount will be covered by a grant from the Football Foundation, leaving a £50,000 funding shortfall.
The Exiles want that money to be raised by the fans rather than relying on Euromillions lottery-winning chairman Les Scadding.
Director Howard Greenhaf said: “As part of the deal we’ll have a new pitch with a new sprinkler system and because it will be flat it will drain a lot better so we should have a good surface.
“It will be a grass surface. We were quoted a figure of £250,000 for a synthetic weave so that is an option for the future, if we’re in the Championship!
“The work we’ll do this summer will cost in the region of £100,000,” he added. “We’re hoping to get a grant from the Football Foundation, which will cover half of that. And we are going to put a rallying call out to the various fan groups to help us in funding the rest.
“Obviously we’ve got a chairman who has won the lottery but we don’t want him to be funding this football club. We want to be a sustainable football club.
“If Justin goes to Les and wants to sign a player and Les is happy to fund that, like he was with Christian Jolley, then that’s fine, but we don’t want Les to be funding this club.”
Greenhaf continued: “We need the Supporters’ Trust, the Friends of Newport County, Bar Amber, everyone to come together.
“They are all supporters of the club and all have the best interests of the club at heart, but they’re going in different directions at the moment and I think it would be a great way to bring them together and focus their efforts on raising money to fund the pitch.
“The work will begin as soon as the season ends so we’ve got to raise the money pretty quickly.”
Manager Justin Edinburgh welcomed the news as a big boost as he looks to secure promotion this season.
“I think it puts us in good stead to gain promotion and it’s a massive achievement by the people who’ve worked hard on it,” he said.
“Once the season ends the club will be investing in the pitch and that is very important too.
“I think everything is geared up for success at the football club on and off the pitch at the moment.
“I think it’s good for the rugby clubs as well and good for Newport as a city.”
Exiles chief executive Dave Boddy was in charge of the negotiations with Rodney Parade Ltd and is delighted that the deal has finally been done.
He said: “The football club can plan for the future now that we’ve got this ten-year commitment.
“We originally had a three-year deal but that doesn’t satisfy the Football League and we needed a ten-year agreement if we were to make the play-offs or get promoted this year.
“It suits everybody because it allows us to put a proper platform in place for this club and now we are in a position to go up into the Football League.”
The club are also planning work before the end of the season to increase the football capacity at Rodney Parade in preparation for a potential play-off semi-final at the end of April.
Greenhaf added: “We’ve talked to the council about the shed at Spytty Park because that was funded by Newport County so we want to get that to Rodney Parade in some form.
“We also want to put 600 seats behind the goal and if we open up the Hazell Stand seats as well, and we got the safety certificate, we would have an 8,000 capacity and I believe we’d fill Rodney Parade if we were in the play-offs.”