You may not be too familiar with Forest Green Rovers, so let me set the scene with a little history lesson.
Formed in 1889 Forest Green Rovers (or FGR as I will now refer to them) currently ply their trade in the Vanarama National Conference and have spent all of their existence fliting between divisions in the non-league ranks.
Located in Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, FGR’s biggest success to date was winning the FA Vase in the 1981/82 season and up until 1998, that was as good as it got for the FGR faithful.
That year they started to make waves as progression to the Conference following promotion through the Southern League under Frank Gregan’s stewardship marked FGR’s highest rung on the Football ladder.
New Owner New Possibilities
Not a lot happened until in 2010 when Green Energy Tycoon Dale Vince launched a take-over of the club and became the majority stakeholder and chairman of the minnows. This is where my story takes us.
Dale Vince founded the company Ecotricity in 1996 which specialises in selling ‘green energy’ to consumers which it generates through its wind power portfolio and to Vince’s credit, the company is built on the principle of heavily reinvesting its profit in building more of its own green energy.
Investment in FGR has also followed and the team now find themselves second in the National League under head coach Mark Cooper and with a very real chance of entering the Football League for the first time, but it is Vince’s new proposal that is making headlines.
All Wooden Stadium
Owner Dale Vince announced that Forest Green Rovers would build a new stadium which would be the centre piece of Ecotricity’s 100-acre Eco Park development near Stroud, and will be made completely out of timber.
FGR launched a competition to design the new stadium and the winning design of the 5000 seater stadium was created by Zaha Hadid Architects (the designers of the London Aquatics Centre).
FGR currently play their home games at ‘The New Lawn’ and remarkably only moved in in 2006, but owner Dale Vince has said: –
“We’ve done as much as we can to make our current stadium properly sustainable but we are limited with what we can do. It simply wasn’t built with the environment in mind”.
That has led to the progression of the world’s first all wooden football stadium after the club hosted what was believed to be the first ever Vegan football match in 2014 against Lincoln City in a move supported by non-other than Sir Paul McCartney.
The new stadium and the Eco Park project aims to be carbon neutral or carbon negative with its own onsite sources of renewable energy generation and the stadium could be completed by 2019.
Is it Safe?
Wood burns, and there have been tragedies in the past (just ask Bradford City fans), but if anything, the new stadium will be safer than modern day steel stadia.
— Forest Green Rovers (@FGRFC_Official) November 3, 2016
The stadium will be made from engineered wood and will be heavily treated to be fire protected and the designers Zaha Hadid do not foresee any problems with the weather so long as the stadium is kept out of standing water.
Could This be the Future?
It is important to remember this is only a 5000 seater stadium, it is one thing to build a relatively small stadium out if wood in a field as oppose to a fifty thousand giant seater stadium in a city centre.
Steel will continue to be the chosen material of stadium structure due to is ease of use and cost but when Dale Vince’s Eco Park is built, we could well see a few more eco-friendly clubs trying their hand at more Green technology methods.
I am a Sport, Fitness and Business writer and Social Media guru for various publications (but hey, who isn't these days!). A keen runner and rubbish golfer (but I keep trying) follow me on twitter to keep up to date with all my work