Towards the end of June, we learned that Midstream had been successful in its application to become one of just seven preferred suppliers to the Premier League Stadium Fund. To celebrate that news, we caught up with Patrick Daly – our National Sales Manager – to talk about what that means, and how it benefits our customers.
Paddy, let’s start with the basics. For those who don’t already know, what exactly is the Premier League Stadium Fund (PLSF)?
“That’s an important question, actually. First of all, the PLSF is what used to be known as the Football Stadia Improvement Fund. The programme is administered by the Football Foundation, which is a partnership between the Premier League, Football Association, Sport England, and The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
“Secondly, despite what the name might suggest, the PLSF isn’t actually aimed at Premier League clubs. It’s called that because the funding
“As with the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, the focus here is on capital grants that clubs can use to enhance their facilities, be that in the form of seating, changing rooms, fencing, or – of course – lighting.”
So which clubs can apply for one of those grants?
“Today, funding is split across three primary leagues, though there are allowances for other competitions too. Those main leagues are the Women’s Football Pyramid, the English National League, and the National League System. There are also some specific requirements about membership of those leagues – only teams in Tiers 1 to 4 of the Women’s League Pyramid are eligible, for instance.
“Wider support is also provided for Grassroots Football Leagues, Regional Feeder Leagues, and the Welsh Premier League.
Moving on to lighting specifically, what does it mean for Midstream to be a preferred supplier to the PLSF?
“Well naturally, it’s a massive honour for us to be named as one of the Fund’s approved suppliers, but there’s more to it than that. As is the case with the International Hockey Federation’s Certification programme, this is about providing clubs with a guarantee about the level of quality that they’re going to receive when they work with a verified supplier.
“One of the major changes that is occurring as part of the PLSF announcing its preferred suppliers list is that clubs applying for a grant now have to source quotes from three of the companies on that list. Ultimately, that’s a positive development because it ensures that the work will be carried out by a reputable, trusted company with a proven track record in football floodlighting.”
And what kind of grants are available in terms of lighting?
“As you might expect, the focus is entirely on LEDs. The PLSF is running a ‘big switch’ campaign which is designed to encourage clubs to upgrade to LEDs from outdated technologies like metal-halide and sodium-vapour. There are clear benefits to doing so, of course, from lower running and maintenance costs through to reduced carbon emissions.
“From a financial perspective, the grants available cover up to 70% of the costs that come with making the move to a modern LED floodlight system. Our own data shows that a new LED system can cost a club anywhere between £28,000 and £72,000 depending on the circumstances. So whichever way you look at it, a PLSF grant can equate to a substantial saving.”
“It’s worth noting that, unlike the general PLSF, there are exceptions around funding for LED lighting. Firstly, the club making the application can’t already have LEDs installed. Secondly, teams applying from the Women’s Football Pyramid can’t play their home matches at a Premier League stadium. Finally, lighting grants are not available to EFL Clubs, Regional Feeder League Clubs, or Grassroots Clubs.”
What kind of cost savings can a club expect to make by switching to LEDs?
“Naturally, that depends on a wide range of factors – from the number of masts and luminaires they have through to operational hours and the price that they’re paying for electricity. Normally, this is something that we look at in detail when discussing an upgrade with a club.
“One quick way to get an approximate idea about potential savings is to use Midstream’s own football-specific cost savings calculator. There’s no commitment that comes with using that calculator, and we don’t ask clubs to share any data with us either. It’s just a quick and easy way to get a view of how much money switching to LEDs might save you.”
How do clubs go about applying for a grant through the PLSF?
“The first thing they need to do is source quotes from three different suppliers from the PLSF list. That’s actually something the PLSF will facilitate, too – all the club needs to do is pass their details on, and they’ll notify us that there’s an opportunity to provide an estimate.
“Once those three different quotes have been provided, the club can make an official application to the PLSF using its online portal. That’s very easy to do, and something that we looked at in detail in a blog post earlier this year.”
Finally, what should clubs be looking out for when it comes to the actual design of their new system?
“Well, alongside the launch of the preferred suppliers programme, the PLSF published brand new guidance around LED floodlighting too. That documentation includes everything from overall performance and specific illuminance levels across different leagues, through to very specific stipulations on masts, cabling, switching, and testing.
“This new documentation is important, because it also serves as a minimum specification that LED floodlighting systems must meet in order to qualify for a grant from the PLSF. Even though a club can expect any of the PLSF preferred suppliers to provide them with details on what their new lighting system will entail, that guidance is still incredibly helpful.
“If nothing else, it should give clubs applying for funding even more confidence that their new setup will be compliant with league regulations.”