Applications are now open for phase two of the Buildbase £100k Transfer Deal, with two more non-League teams having a chance to win £25k of building materials to help improve their facilities.
This season’s opportunity is eligible to any club who entered the 2019-20 Buildbase FA Trophy or FA Vase and our phase two winners will be picked from six shortlisted teams, who must pitch for the Buildbase bursary at Wembley Stadium later this year.
Eastern Counties League Premier League side Stowmarket Town and Southern League Division One Central outfit Barton Rovers were this season’s first two winners, chosen by our specialist panel of FA and Buildbase judges last December
Stowmarket impressed with their clear long-term vision, to renovate their West Stand and allow more fans to sit under cover at their 1000-capacity Greens Meadow stadium.
They'll begin their renovation during the off-season, doing the majority of work before the 2020-21 season kicks off.
“Our pitch centred around the need to build in order to grow,” says Stowmarket’s director for development, John Griffin.
“We’ll improve the quality and comfort of our West Stand rather than just increase its capacity. Right now, only 140 fans can be seated within it and we’ll increase that to over 200.
“We’ll also expand our committee room and make it multi-purpose. And we will improve our kitchen facilities and community area, including a multi-purpose, all-weather games area. This allows the club to be used for non-football projects during the summer months.”
Founded in 1883, Stowmarket are one of England’s oldest football clubs and historically went head-to-head with the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea.
Like Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Rick Andrews’ side are currently unbeaten in their league, the Eastern Counties Premier Division, and look almost certain to gain promotion to step four which would see them compete in the Isthmian North Division.
“We’re doing incredible things in the league,” says 50-year-old Griffin, who also managed the club back in 2008.
“Unfortunately, we got knocked out of the FA Vase to Wroxham in February, but promotion is our priority. Assuming that happens, we’ll need to bring our stadium up to FA standards with the help of the Buildbase bursary.
“Stowmarket has a really bright future and it’s important that our facilities match our ambition. When I was manager, the club had a pretty old fanbase so we decided to make U16 entrance free and that’s helped make Greens Meadow a bit more youthful. Our average attendance is now over 350 compared to around 50 only a few seasons ago.
“As importantly, we have raised and invested £30k over the past six years in improving our pitch. When I was manager it was basically just a hill and you couldn’t even see the corner flag at other end. Levelling it out has attracted a higher calibre of players and we wouldn’t be top of the league without doing so.
“We’ve fixed the drainage, too, which means our 17 youth teams can also play on the pitch and that means the whole community can benefit from the football club.
“Programmes like this are truly a real lifeline for grassroots football. It took us six years to raise basically the same amount of money that we were given overnight from the FA and Buildbase.
“And to all eligible clubs for the next round of funding, I would say you have nothing to lose by applying! The pitch itself at Wembley Stadium was a little petrifying but thoroughly enjoyable.
“I think it’s also important to stress how versatile the bursary is. You don’t just get given a bunch of building materials. Buildbase also come down and offer advice, best practices and help oversee the whole process.
“They can even hire staff, like cement diggers, for you – so you really don’t need to be an expert on building to apply because they will be with you every step of what we know is going to be a transformational journey for Stowmarket Town.”
Buildbase have awarded £400k of building materials to improve non-League football club facilities since becoming the title sponsor of the FA Trophy and FA Vase in 2016.APPLY: THE £100K BUILDBASE TRANSFER DEAL