Is a Green, Eco-friendly and Ethical Football the Future of the Modern Game?
Forest green Rovers have gone from obscurity to the front pages ever since they were bought by eccentric green millionaire Dale Vince. The owner of energy company Ecotricity bought the club in 2010, and it has seen a dramatic change off the pitch, even if it hasn’t happened on it yet.
As head of Ecotricity Dale Vince has amassed a fortune of over £100m, but has a fascinating history as a new age traveller before finding his wealth. Ecotricity provides alternative energy sources, usually wind turbines, but also provides charging stations for electric cars. Vince bought Forest Green Rovers in 2010 and has set about systematically changing every aspect of the club to make It eco-friendlier.
The club’s home New Lawn stadium in Nailsworth was first to change in Vince’s revolution. He banned the sale of meat at the stadium. Only vegan products were on offer for the fans. This diet has infiltrated the club fully now, with club being all vegan. Even the players are now green machines. 180 solar panels were added to the roofs of the ground which help to provide 10% of the stadium’s electricity needs. The actual grass itself has even changed with an organically grown pitch being used. This has won the club many innovative awards in groundsmanship.
The next stage of the plan is underway and it will see an end to this experiment at New Lawn. That is because Forest Green Rovers will be building a brand-new stadium on an Eco Park that will be shared with Ecotricity. “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. At Eco Park, we’ve started with a blank sheet of paper and we’ll be going further than anyone has done before. This really will be the greenest football stadium in the world.”
The Eco Park site will cover 100 acres providing green business facilities, sport science labs and the new stadium for the Rovers. The stadium design has been made by Zaha Hadid architects, who famously designed Qatar’s World Cup stadium and the Olympic swimming pool in London. They won a design competition for the project. The innovative design’s most notable element is its use of wood throughout the structure. The stadium will be almost entirely made of wood and surrounded by nature. It is thought that Olympians are already looking at Eco Park in the future to learn about sport science and dieting to improve performances via Vince’s beliefs.
While these changes have been a enjoyable shock for Forest Green Rovers, the rest of the football league has been slow to catch up. This does not mean it cannot be the future. With clubs looking to finances as a means of competing more and more, perhaps cost saving with green technology could be a method to achieve this. Dale Vince has always been a trend setter, so he will be hoping that his projects with Forest Green Rovers will set the trend and get an important message out to the millions, nay billions of fans of football, not only in the UK but also the world.