The men behind Sutton United’s £1m redevelopment of Gander Green Lane say it has two primary objectives.
First, the £750,000 construction of a community pavilion on the recreation ground side of the Lane will provide a leisure-based centre for the community boasting facilities such as changing rooms for youngsters using the pitches.
Second, the works within the ground - costing almost £200,000 - are designed to improve the match-day experience, attract more fans through the gates and create an atmosphere that will push the team to further success.
Dave Farebrother, chairman of the board of directors and project manager for the redevelopment, said: “After we were given permission to regenerate Collingwood recreation ground so our juniors could prepare pitches to play on, we had the problem where there was nowhere for them to change or shower.
“If we demolished the terrace of the park side, and build a new one closer to the pitch, that frees up space behind the terrace where we can build the community pavilion - that is being funded by the football foundation and various sponsorships.”
He added: “Then we thought, while we have builders on site, it would be cheaper to do the football related work then, rather than get them back in five years’ time.”
As well as the work on the park side of the ground, the club is squaring off the oval terrace at the Collingwood Road end, and building a new terrace to skirt the pitch.
It is also investigating moving the new covered terrace and pitch closer to the Gander Green Lane stand, thus creating a more enclosed ground, as well as creating space at the Collingwood Road end for training pitches behind the terrace at a later date.
Manager Paul Doswell has derided the lack of atmosphere at the Lane this season describing it as souless and like a library, and he hopes the works will change all that.
He said: “You can be as far as 20m away from the pitch in the main grand stand, and if you’re on the oval terrace, you can be so far from the pitch as to be ridiculous.
“Sometimes during games it feels as if it is one man and his dog in the ground, and that is unfair to the stalwart fans who turn up.”
He added: “The fact people can stand so close to the pitch will make a huge difference to the atmosphere, and make for a better match day experience, which we need to attract more people in to the games.”