Monday, 15 May 2017

The Greening of Football

by Henry Percival

Today, for the first time in their 128 year history, Forest Green Rovers (FGR) won promotion to the football league. They beat Tranmere Rovers 3-1 in the National League playoff final at Wembley. There is something very different about this club however. They are almost 100% vegan.

Their chairman, Dale Vince, is a green energy industrialist, bringing with him his green ways to the club. Upon buying the club, Vince banned all red meats from the clubs menus for health reasons. Within a few weeks, all sale of red meat items at the club was banned. Since then they (club staff) have eaten vegetarian options and free-range poultry and fish from sustainable stocks. However, at the end of 2015, no animal products of any description were available at the club. If the players wanted a cup of tea, then they would have to find a substitute for cow's milk. This piece of action made the club completely vegan, and making them the only club in the world to do so.

This isn’t the only green thing that Vince has done. He installed solar panels on the roof of one of the stands at their ground, using the electricity generated to power the clubs lawnmower, which is also solar powered. The energy generated is also capable to power 25% of the clubs stadium. To top this also, the playing surface at their ground is completely organic. The pitch collects rainwater, which can be recycled and then used around the stadium. Any grass cuttings from the club are given to local farmers to help them condition their soil. Finally, the area around and outside of the ground has been turned into a habitat for wildlife through the planting of trees and and flowers.

With the club growing however, they are looking to build a new stadium. In November 2016, a winning design was chosen to be FGR’s new stadium. The club received almost 50 possible designs. The winner again matches the clubs and Vince’s ethos. The stadium will be built entirely out of wood. The stadium is to be the centrepiece of a £100m sports and green technology business park proposal next to the M5.

The growth of this small Gloucestershire club looks to be exciting and they will be a welcome addition to the Football League.

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