The specialist property solicitors at Harrison Drury have advised on a landmark property deal that will see Preston Grasshoppers RFC benefit from a £50m national initiative to grow participation in rugby.
Grasshoppers will become one of the first clubs in the country, and the first in the North West, to benefit from a Rugby Football Union (RFU) investment programme that will create 100 new artificial grass pitches (AGP) over the next four years.
Preston Grasshoppers’ own deal with the RFU will see the area containing the pitch leased to the RFU, who will fund the new state-of-the-art surface, while allowing the club to reserve use of the pitch when they need it.
Work has already started on preparing the ground for the new floodlit artificial pitch at Grasshoppers’ Lightfoot Lane home, with the aim of it being ready to be played on at the end of the year.
John Chesworth, managing director of Harrison Drury and a former first team player at Preston Grasshoppers, said: “During the last few very wet winters there have been times when the pitch has been out of use for weeks at a time with games postponed and training sessions cancelled due to fears over damaging the grass.
This novel deal has effectively doubled the time that the club will be able to use the pitch and means the RFU will be responsible for maintaining the playing surface. It therefore protects the operational and financial interests of the club, while providing significant benefits for local grassroots rugby.”
Richard Ellis, general manager at Preston Grasshoppers, commented on the RFU’s investment. He said: “Grasshoppers is one of the oldest clubs in the country and has produced players that have gone on to secure international honours and win World Cups.
The investment from the RFU is tremendous for us and the local community as it provides a significant sporting facility. This is a major event in the club’s history and one that will hopefully encourage more people to get involved in rugby and experience Hoppers’ welcoming environment.
In addition to increasing participation in the game it will also mean that match cancellations will significantly reduce, which in turn helps us to welcome more spectators to Hoppers and boosting our income. This will then get reinvested in the club contributing to our aspirations of playing in a higher league.”
You can find out more regarding the RFU’s plans for 100 new artificial pitches here.