Just outside of Bristol in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire lies ‘The New Lawn Stadium’, home of the Forest Green Rovers. The team is known worldwide as the only fully vegan club in football. In 2017, FIFA described the FGR’s as the greenest football club in the world. Energy, transport, food and nature are the major pillars for the club, with solar-powered stadium lights and a dedication to renewable electricity and carbon neutral gas. They work with big names like Oatly and Quorn, pioneering their stadium’s super sustainable recycling process and hospitality sector.
But the club’s dedication goes much further than simply lights and veganism, and they do all they can to keep the team fully green. “We’ve got an organic pitch that captures rainwater and recycles it back for irrigation, saving precious tap water. This year we’ve introduced an epic new process that cleans up the water from the away fans’ toilets and pumps that back onto the pitch as well!” says the club.
Their chairman Dale Vince was appointed Climate Champions for the United Nations in 2019, and got FGR recognised as the only Carbon Neutral Club in the world. The club states on their site that they have “been measuring our carbon footprint at FGR for over a decade and our whole operation is certified to the international environmental standard ISO1400.”
On top of the green goings on, the club has dedicated time to the wider community, establishing charity “FGR Community… to educate, motivate and inspire through football.”
Their dedication to sustainability measures make for big future plans, as they reveal their new stadium will be built, called ‘The Eco’. The design will elevate their old stadium and implement more measures to their already revolutionary approach to football games. “Plans for the stadium itself have been designed by the world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid. Although it has a modern aesthetic, Eco Park will be made almost entirely from wood – nature’s renewable building material,” they say on the building plans. Furthermore, they add that they will plant 500 trees and 1.8km of hedgerows to enforce biodiversity around the grounds.
So for a small club that is taking on some of the world’s biggest climate problems, we can only applaud Forest Green Rovers for their dedication to a sustainable future, and hope that their example can pave the way for future clubs to follow.