Athlone Town have finally been given permission to install an all-weather pitch in their stadium, with PRO Eamon Cunningham labelling it as a landmark occasion for the club. The club had been involved in a legal dispute regarding ownership of the gr
Athlone Town have finally been given permission to install an all-weather pitch in their stadium, with PRO Eamon Cunningham labelling it as a landmark occasion for the club.
The club had been involved in a legal dispute regarding ownership of the ground, but with this issue now resolved they can push ahead with the plans.
The project has been in the pipeline for a couple of years, with the stadium’s main pitch set to be resurfaced in the coming months.
“This is great news for Athlone Town. We finally got the go ahead to install the astroturf which is going in on the main pitch,” Mr. Cunningham said.
“We had hoped to get it installed earlier in the summer, but that wasn't to be. So now it is going in in mid September, hopefully the start date will be the 17th of Septmeber.”
The surface will be similar to the ones seen in other SSE Airtricity League grounds, such as Dundalk’s Oriel Park or Derry City’s Brandywell Stadium.
Previously the club was forced to rent all-weather pitches from the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) in order to train their various underage teams.
With this pitch now being able to cater for the needs of these teams, Mr. Cunnigham believes the financial burden has been seriously eased on the club.
“Up to this we have had to hire pitches from the AIT, and obviously that costs money.
“Now that we have our own astroturf, we will obviously be saving that money that we were paying out. Over the course of the season, between training and matches, that cost is tens of thousands of euro. Roughly €20,000.
“So all of that money will now be retained and can be recycled within the club.”
Not only will the new pitch result in major reductions in the expenses of running the club, it is also hoped that it may see an increase in income.
“It also means that when our own teams, of which we will probably have ten next year between senior and underage teams, are not using it other teams can come in and use it.
“Obviously there will be a rent to be paid on that, and that will be an additional income coming into the club.”
Positive results on the field have been difficult to come by for the Midlands club this season, with a 1-0 home defeat to UCD on Friday night leaving them rooted to the bottom of the SSE Airtricity League First Division.
However it is hoped that the savings associated with the new pitch, as well as the additional income, will contribute to an upturn of fortunes in the not too distant future for the League of Ireland’s oldest club.