Launceston FC has been a fixture in Cornwall, southwest England, since 1891 and new solar panels funded by the Premier League are helping "The Clarets" to become more environmentally and financially sustainable.
The panels were fitted to the team’s clubhouse roof this season and were made possible by a £50,000 grant from the Premier League Stadium Fund. As a result the club’s energy bill has been reduced by more than two thirds.
A crowd of more than 250 fans were in attendance as the Premier League Trophy visited the side’s Pennygillam ground, 120 miles along the coast from AFC Bournemouth on Saturday 27 January, when the club hosted St Dennis in the South West Peninsula League Premier Division West, the 10th tier of the English football pyramid.
Premier League investment has also funded the replacement of Launceston FC’s grandstand roof this season, as well as separate Premier League grants in 2020 of £13,000 for pitch maintenance equipment and a £98,500 contribution for the building of new changing-rooms a decade ago.
The Premier League Stadium Fund supports more than a thousand clubs, competing in more than 100 leagues throughout England and Wales, with investment to support the improvement of their stadium facilities. To date, more than £190m has been distributed.
“Supporting the football pyramid is important for the Premier League and we want to help clubs become more resilient to the impacts of economic conditions and climate change," said Premier League Head of Sustainability Will Hutton.
“Launceston FC has demonstrated its environmental stewardship by installing solar panels which help to reduce carbon emissions associated with traditional energy supplies.
“It also gives the club the ability to reduce their energy bills, allowing them to spend money on other areas to support their growth.”
'Financially and environmentally it was right'
Peter Stevenson, Launceston treasurer, is also finance director of the Cornwall FA, and said the grant for the panels has made vital contribution to the club's future.
"It is absolutely great that the money from the Premier League reaches us at Step 6 of the football pyramid here in Cornwall," Stevenson (pictured below right) said.
"Our electricity bill had risen terrifically over the previous two years, rising four or five-fold, so financially it was right and environmentally it was right to install solar panels. We expect to be able to recoup £5,000 in savings inside 12 months.
"Our club is located next to a wind farm, which makes us quite unique and means, of course, we want to be sustainable ourselves too.
"For clubs like ourselves where income is absolutely essential, reducing our outgoings means we can keep prices affordable. We see ourselves as custodians of the club and want to make sure the next generations will have it to enjoy.”
Wider benefit for the community
Club secretary Keith Ellacott (pictured above left) added: "Launceston Football Club is a massive part of our community and means a huge amount to me. It has been a part of my life for very nearly 60 years.
“I first played for the Under-18s in 1965. I was a winger back then, but I've held many positions and wanted to be involved ever since!
"We are very grateful for the support from the Premier League. We've always been aware that the money filters through - and we've taken advantage of that.
"We are well pleased with the solar panels. Our energy bill has reduced from £600 or £700 per month to just over £200, so we can see the returns immediately.
"Our clubhouse is also used by a local Slimming World group each week as well as for community events and charity fundraiser quizzes and bingo, so these groups benefit additionally.”