Floodlighting and phone mast bid at Sidmouth Town AFC

Sidmouth Town played Alphington at the weekend. Ref shsp 34-16AW 4003. Picture: Alex Walton.

Sidmouth Town played Alphington at the weekend. Ref shsp 34-16AW 4003. Picture: Alex Walton. - Credit: Archant

Sidmouth Town Football Club bosses were ‘instantly attracted’ to a novel idea to illuminate its only pitch, extend its use and benefit the community.

Shared Access, which supports grass-roots sport by helping clubs to find investment, has proposed installing floodlights at the same time as a new mobile phone mast at Manstone Lane.

Club bosses said the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity could allow it to form women’s and disabled teams and help top players rise through the league tables.

Writing to Sidmouth Town Council, the club said: “Sidmouth Town AFC were instantly attracted to Shared Access’s proposals to install floodlighting at Manstone Lane. It is unlikely the club would ever be able to fund the installation of floodlights ourselves. The club feels there is little doubt that the network providers will look to install a mast in the local vicinity soon. If this is the case, then only through the provision of floodlighting – along with a mast – will this provide a benefit to the local community beyond an improved mobile data signal.”

The club has three adult teams with 100 players on its books and nearly 300 under-16s with the Sidmouth Junior Vikings. But, unlike most other nearby towns, it does not have a floodlit playing facility – meaning players have to train at Colyton or Ottery St Mary over the winter, at a cost of nearly £10,000.

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The letter says floodlighting would allow members to train and play more matches midweek, and is necessary under league rules for the first team to gain promotion to the Peninsula Premier division. It adds: “We have also had some enquiries about running a ladies’ team and disability team. With a floodlit facility, we would certainly explore this further as this would enhance our reputation as a community club.”

Club bosses said the lights should not adversely affect neighbouring properties and could provide another night landing site for Devon Air Ambulance.

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Sidmouth Town Council supported the idea in principle at its trustee meeting in April – subject to planning permission and a 9pm curfew.

Members were due to consider the letter when they met yesterday (Monday).

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