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Fanfare

Supporter accommodation at football matches

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Success on the field over the years often sees the prize money gained going towards retaining success by paying players crazy money. Prize money helps clubs stay afloat but it's a short term fix. £1000 prize money can go a long way but ten regular supporters paying £5 admission per home game would almost cover that. The loyal supporters are sometimes forgotten in the race to win silverware, to such an extent that grounds and improvements are almost unimportant. The only changes that matter are those 'behind the scenes' - the toilet in the refs room or a certain amount of shower heads etc.

Bodmin Town have had much success in the SWPL era. They may not have the biggest fan base but after the grandstand was built in 1953 or thereabouts and the clubhouse added in 1986, the only changes in that time save for hardstanding on three sides of  the ground, is the fence around the edges. Neutral fans might be more inclined to visit Priory Park if there was some additional cover elsewhere, maybe behind  the goal. I appreciate there are cost implications and maybe planning consent needed depending on size but surely a sponsorship deal could be sorted to alleviate some of the cost.

St Austell have had their stand since time began but apart from some cover at the tea hut, it can be a wet night at Poltair for supporters if these areas are full. The ground has been tidied up considerably in recent years with it now fenced in and new floodlights but for one of the best supported clubs in the league, surely something could be added. Nothing special is needed but even new teams like Ludgvan have cover on two sides of the ground. It's nothing fancy but it shows ambitions of a club on the up.

Ivybridge haven't had buckets of success in the league but their ground has undergone one of the biggest changes with the pitch being rotated and everything needed being closer and easily accessible.

Falmouth have cover on four sides, and although it has suffered damage and hasn't been fixed, in their current situation to which no one seems to have an answer, any work would probably not be worth it. It does offer their dwindling fan base and neutral fans a number of covered view points.

Helston are a team on the up with a smart ground that has seen a number of improvements and the only real complaint is that a fan on a wet night would end up with wet feet from the no hard standing on three sides of the ground (unless it has been done pre season, if this is the case I apologise). The club should be commended for their efforts but I hope it is a 'to be continued sooner rather than later' job.

Launceston have a pretty decent stand with regulation tip up seats but little else other than the smart clubhouse and a huge turbine hovering over the ground. The disappeaance of the trees behind the goal leaves the ground pretty open and the far end is rather tight to install a cover but some spectators prefer to stand at games and this is limited at Pennygillam.

Newquay are a team that have everything requires pretty much. A stand on two sides of the ground, and although the old toilets on the ground are out of action, they have acted to ensure the clubhouse toilets are easier to access. That's really the only change in recent years but it has stood the test of time (even if yellow and blue is an odd choice for a team that plays in red and white!).

Plymouth Parkway are a club that has been a consistant top six team since 2007. Moving from the Brickfields in 2004 to Manadon, progress has been steady with a stand on both sides and the recent changing rooms/clubhouse complex behind the goal giving the club everything it needs. If the concrete base next to the seasted stand is for the purpose of more spectator facilities, good for them!

Camelford have had a brand new ground since the SWPL was formed and Wadebridge did a lot of work beforehand. Porthleven's ground has had little done but the new bar/clubhouse area is a good move. The benches are great when the weather is good! Callington and Tavistock are two other clubs moving in the right direction.

Torpoint are another team deserving a mention. For years the main stand was the only cover. Now they have a stand next to this and one going/gone in on the other side of the ground. With floodlights and a fance around, it's looking good.

I haven't mentioned many teams but the point is that many clubs haven't added much if any supporter improvements in 10, 15 or 20 years. Improved facilities can be more inviting and bring in newer fans and/or sponsors who won't have to worry about getting wet at games and might push your club higher on the list of options for neutral fans looking for a game. Wendron's stand is a much loved addition according to the groundhoppers and has won the club new fans and recommendations of 'you have to see their new stand'. Be inventive, be different, look after the supporters who look after your club!

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A very good, relevant and interesting post Fanfare. Money, or lack of it of course, is always a problem. If the FA cut the 'financial cake' more fairly, this would help. Covered stands and comfortable seats should be the aim of all clubs. But - it takes time and money. Come on FA give a little (lots) more to the lower leagues. Us oldies need dry comfort first and foremost  - and a warm clubhouse with good facilities. I will keep dreaming and hoping. To be fair though, I think most clubs do their best within their means.

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