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News From The Boardroom: Training Ground Renovations

8 June 2016

City Chairman Julian Tagg provides the low-down on work behind the scenes

WHILST CITY boss Paul Tisdale has already completed the signings of Robbie Simpson, Lloyd James and Liam McAlinden in preparation for the 2016/17 season, we take a look at the work going on behind the scenes at the club to keep you in touch with all things Exeter City.

Today’s focus is on the on-going renovations at the Cliff Hill Training Ground.

It has been a long held aspiration of the club to provide the pre-requisite facilities so that our Academy can progress from the current Category 3 level to achieve Category 2 status. More than two years ago a master plan of our ambitions for the Cliff was worked on and outline drawings produced. Last year circa £150k was spent on improving the drainage and surfaces of two pitches thus aiding both the academy and the first team squad to play more often on better surfaces. To achieve the goal of Cat 2 we need an indoor 60x40 3G surface facility and access to a full sized outdoor 3G artificial surface pitch. Whilst it was hoped to provide both this year the estimated cost of circa £1.2m for the indoor facility alone suggested it best to complete the 3G facility at a cost of £600k and attack the indoor facility provision in the near future.

With a massive amount of work already completed by Chris Jay and his experienced and professional NPS Group, who have been magnificent in helping and guiding us in this process, along with Mike Phillips who continues to lead and drive this initiative as well as being a major player in the New Grandstand development project, things are progressing. Pace to date has not been rapid. That said there is often good reason. At Exeter City we can ill afford to make a mistake, but I’m pleased to say things are now quickening and there is a degree of urgency to do everything possible to deliver the project before the onset of bad weather.

The certainty of funds from the Matt Grimes transfer has meant that with a budget prepared a pre-planning application for the Cliff was submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC). Very helpful advice was received and subsequently acted upon facilitating the submission of a full planning application for the 3G facility. With the compulsory flood assessment now completed and returned positive, alongside the recent plus that the Environmental Agency have also replied positively, all is progressing well. In the meantime visits around the country to various facilities to view and gather financial and practical information resulted in a narrowing of the type of facility, and costings thereof, best suited to our needs. The manager even made the trip to Belgium to view and review the new cork infill style pitches that are being laid partly due to the refuted but alleged carcinogenic in rubber crumb pitches.

Back at the Ranch and Chris, Mike and Clive, who have been there every step of the way, have interviewed our favoured suppliers and constructors subsequently issuing a detailed specification for tender. With a tender return date of 28th of July it’s likely a special board meeting will be called on or around 4th of August to sign off on the recommendation from Chris and Mike. There are no guarantees but all effort will be made to complete this project as soon as possible.

Finally, even though the indoor 60x40 pitch is currently unaffordable, work has already begun to uncover a possible solution. It has ever been in the Club and Trust psyche to raise funds for such a project via a Community Share Issue, something which has found considerable success at other clubs. The focus here would fall on our excellent Football in the Community Department and preliminary meetings have already been held between the Club, Trust and Supporters Direct. We will seek their advice on whether it’s a sensible proposition and if it is the best method to address the funding, and that man Mike Phillips is again retained.

Improved facilities for our club, be it for players, staff and volunteers, academy, FITC or our supporters, remains a focus which must be a tackled. It must remain a constantly addressed goal and objective if we are to succeed and become ever more competitive in an extremely challenging league structure and market place.

Julian Tagg, Chairman

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