Ground Improvements Planned for Sidmouth Town

Sidmouth Town Dressing Rooms

Sidmouth Town Dressing Rooms - Credit: Archant

Ground Improvements Planned for Sidmouth Town

In a time of great uncertainty for local football, Sidmouth Town have launched a bold plan to safeguard their future with significant improvements to the facilities at Manstone Park.

The club has submitted a planning application to install a new covered stand, enhance the dressing room area and add a hard standing section for their loyal support.

It is fantastic to see our local clubs looking forward to happier times, on and off the pitch, and there is certainly no resting on their laurels at Sidmouth Town.

“Everything we are doing is subject to planning approval but we are applying to install a 50-seater covered stand at Sidmouth Town Football Club,” said Andy Argyle, the Club Development Officer.

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“It allows supporters to sit or stand in bad weather and enjoy some protection while watching the game. We’re also putting in additional hard standing at one end of the ground for spectators.

“The plans include a reconfiguration of our dressing rooms to accommodate match officials, reflecting the fact we now have three officials, as well as space for female officials. It is all subject to planning approval, which we have applied for and awaiting the result.”

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The proposed upgrades will allow Sidmouth Town to meet the specific ground grading regulations set for their level in the football pyramid. The requirements include a need for the ground to ‘give an overall appearance and impression of being a football ground suitable for the National League System’.

The ground grading guidance goes on to say that ‘it must be possible for spectators to view the match, either standing or seated, for the full length of at least two sides of the playing area. Where any side is designated as spectator-free, measures must be in place to ensure there is no unauthorised access’.

It all adds up to a significant challenge for Town but the end result will be massively beneficial to the club, and the community.

“We are now in Step Six football as part of the South-West Peninsula League,” said Argyle. “It is a requirement of the level that we have spectator facilities, along with all the necessary safety measures.

“We need to have railings, hard standing for spectators and an area for spectators to sit down. In order to meet the ground grading requirements for Step Six, we have to make these improvements to the club. It is a process that will stand us in good stead for many years to come. The growth of football clubs is gradual and dependent on the standard you reach in the pyramid.

“The Town Council are the trustees of Manstone Park, which is where we play our football, and we work with them to make sure we oblige by all the requirements of tenants.

“It is a public area and exists for people to enjoy recreation. With the exception of match-days, Manstone Park remains open for all to use.

“We are at the stage of hopefully receiving planning approval and then we start the work,” added Argyle. “The deadline is to have these arrangements in place by the end of March.

“Obviously, nobody can be certain what will happen with regards to the virus and lockdowns, but people understand that there is potential for factors beyond our control that could limit our ability to meet the deadline.

“It is a deadline set by the Peninsula League in conjunction with the Football Association. They have set us a realistic deadline for things to take place and we are in regular contact with Phil Hiscox, Secretary of the League.”

League rules go on to state that the ground must meet with the approval of both the FA and the management committee of the Peninsula League.

It is clear there are some hurdles to overcome but they are certainly not insurmountable, and the ambition from the club is brilliant to see, especially at such a challenging time for local sport.

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