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Pitch taking Stones to a new level as turnover hits £1.1m

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 September 2013

Maidstone United's Gallagher Stadium. Picture by Ady Kerry.

Maidstone United's Gallagher Stadium. Picture by Ady Kerry.

Ady Kerry /AK Pictures

Stones reaping the rewards from 3G pitch.

It took 24 years, but Maidstone United’s homecoming is already proving its worth, with the club reaping the financial rewards.

A year on from moving into their new £3 million home, the Gallagher Stadium, the club has revealed a first-year turnover of £1.1m.

Although it still has a number of years to go before it pays off the construction debts for the ground in James Whatman Way, the new set-up is having the desired impact.

The 3G pitch alone, which sees thousands of players of all age groups using it a week, is bringing in an estimated £200,000 a year.

Couple that with last season’s average attendance of 1,698 as the Stones made it into the 
Ryman Premier via the play-offs, and you end up with a profit of £180,000 after depreciation.

For co-owner Oliver Ash, the development could not have happened without the artificial 3G surface, which is playablae come rain or snow.

“The 3G pitch has had a huge impact in the sense that prior to deciding to take over the club with co-owner Terry Casey and do the development we decided the only way it would be financially viable was if we had a 3G pitch,” said Ash.

“It doesn’t go far enough to say it’s had a big impact. Without the 3G pitch and the business model, there would be no club.

“In terms of direct income I think we’ve had £100,000. Having the pitch enables us to be open seven days a week around the club and it has an indirect income on other areas around the club. It brings 1,000 players to the pitch and a loyalty that is difficult to quantify. We reckon it’s approximately £200,000 indirectly. We think it could go even further than that.”

The club has come a long way in the last three years since Ash and Casey took over. Before then it had spent the years since 1988 groundsharing around the county at Dartford, Sittingbourne and Ashford as it rose from bankruptcy and started again at the bottom of the non-league football pyramid.

It meant that a generation missed out on watching the Stones play in their own town, but there has been no evidence of apathy, with 
demand forcing the club to take action in the summer.

New toilets and beverage facilities were put in and one of the terraced areas was extended to provide more cover. There has also been the 
addition of 40 seats in a new family area near the changing rooms to complement the 400-seater stand.

The profits, which are impressive for a club at Step 3 in the football pyramid, will not be squandered on chasing the Football League dream, though Ash said: “The surplus next year and hopefully in years to come will go to repaying those historic construction debts and to making 
improvements we will have to make if we get promoted, such as increased seating, turnstiles and security.

“The third thing is to strengthen the playing squad if we have anything left over. We have an intention to run it as a sensible sustainable business. You can never rest on your laurels – one of the reasons we had good figures was because we had such excellent crowds coming. We have to keep the product stimulating and entertaining.”

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