Since the last blog there has been A LOT going on in the background with grant applications, planning permission applications, liaising with service providers etc, but no actual physical works on The Athletic itself until recent weeks. Theres been a few more obstacles put in our way with regards to the changing rooms, but rather than sit back and give up we thought we had best carry on with work that we can do for the time being.
Changing rooms latest:-
There was recently a ‘facilities grant’ made available by the FAW for clubs in our exact situation. Clubs who are trying to develop and improve football grounds around the country. This was an ideal opportunity for us to apply for the £20/£30k needed for the cheapest type of changing rooms in order to get us up and running ready for the summer!
Part of the application process means you need to have planning permission in place, or at least have started to get the ball rolling for this process. This is where the new obstacles started to appear for us! The planning department were not happy with our proposal of getting the £20/£30k changing rooms (which are effectively converted storage containers) because they didn’t look nice enough due to The Athletic being located in a conservation area!
We then went out to get quotations for changing rooms that would satisfy the planning department (and would benefit us as a club massively) and these came in at around £140k!! This was a massive blow to us as it is highly unlikely that we will ever get this sort of funding! With the FAW grant application date closing in, and our hands being tied on the type of facilities we can use, I decided to submit our application for the £140k and hope and pray!
I wasn’t going to even send the application off because of the amount of clubs applying and the amount of money we are asking for being so high, but I thought we either don’t send it at all or we send it and they tell us no?! We are awaiting answers on this and will hopefully have an update in the next blog!
Working at The Athletic :-
Whenever we do manage to get any changing rooms at the ground we will need water, electric and waste outlet. With that in mind we thought we would make a start at getting these services back up and running and in the locations we would need them. With the help of Gareth Richards we managed to get the electric company to reduce their costs to re-connect the electric from £19,000 to £980! They were planning on putting a new line in but then agreed to utilise the existing cable on site. This was a massive result for us as £19k for a couple of lights and a kettle to work was a non-starter!!
Locating the existing electric cable
As soon as we agreed the new costs me and Scooby got to work in locating the existing cable. This meant hand digging to find it and then digging the remainder of the trench with the machine. We needed to lay ducting from the old cable to the new location ready for the electric company to connect it all up for us.
Digging out the trench ready for the electric duct
Because of the location of the existing electric being next to the pitch, and us needing it up in the car park, it meant having to dig through our new ramp! You can tell Amco did a good job as this proved difficult having to cut through the geogrid they had laid to support the stone access. We then had to cut and dig through the tarmac car park, which was enough work for one day!
Laying the ducting, dusting, laying marker tape and backfilling
We went back the following week to lay the ducting and backfill the trench. All that is left to do now is install the cabinet box and get the electric company out to make it live. Next on the to-do list is get the water service in and the drainage!
We have been fortunate enough to have assistance from Active Merthyr since we started this project which we will be forever grateful for!
In order for us to get planning permission it would mean a cost of almost £1000 which they have said they will help us with! This is an unbelievable help to us as we need every penny we can get our hands on in order to complete this project!
Active Merthyr also put us in touch with George and Co ( www.georgeandco.studio ) who have said they will assist us with our planning application free of charge in order to give us the best opportunity of getting it approved. Again this is an absolutely massive help to us and we can’t thank them enough for helping us, it really is appreciated and we are so grateful!
The next steps…
Until we are told otherwise we remain hopeful of securing funding for our new changing rooms. We will be carrying out more fundraising events in the coming months to help raise as much money as possible to get the home of our kids football teams ready for the summer. As always any support will be amazing as per our previous fundraisers.
The work on upgrading the pitch will be starting next month. This will involve removing the existing grass, installing drainage, seeding, feeding and laying tonnes of sand on the pitch to aid its recovery and longevity.
As mentioned previously we will also be installing the water and drainage. We also hope to install foundations for the potential changing rooms. The more work we can get done now before the facility opens for the kids the better as it will mean less disruption later on while also keeping it safe.
The next few months are going to be really busy, loads more work to be done both on and off the ground (all whilst still running the football club for our 170-ish players!🙈😂), watch this space!
Thanks for reading.