Mansfield Town kick off early to save on floodlight bill

·3-min read
The lights go out at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton - PA
The lights go out at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton - PA

Mansfield Town are the first Football League club to bring forward kick off times to reduce their floodlight usage in the cost-of-living crisis.

The club's League Two encounter at home to Walsall on Oct 15 will begin at 1pm rather than the scheduled 3pm.

"The club is endeavouring to mitigate the forthcoming, considerable increase in energy bills," a statement from the club says. "As part of these efforts, the earlier kick-off time will enable the club to discern whether significant savings can be made on floodlight usage and other energy costs."

Telegraph Sport disclosed earlier this week how floodlight usage had been raised by the EFL's board and will be discussed again by all clubs next week. Mansfield are understood to have made a special application to the league, with advice from safety advisory groups.

Research from the Fair Game claims that almost two thirds of lower league clubs would consider earlier kick-offs as winter bills surge.

The group, which is campaigning for improved governance of the game, said its research is based on "one club in the Championship, five in League One, six in League Two, nine in the National League, seven in National League North, six in National League South, and five further down the pyramid".

"Nearly all the clubs surveyed were either concerned or very concerned about the cost-of-living crisis," the campaign group said. "On average, out of 10, the clubs’ level of concern was a massive 7.15 – a figure that peaked amongst clubs in League Two (8.20)."

There is hope that caps on energy bills will help clubs get through the winter, but the situation adds to pressure on the Premier League to finalise its so-called "New Deal for Football".

The league has been reviewing its distribution models for at least two years, having come under pressure amid the furores sparked by Project Big Picture and the European Super League.

A key part of the new system of redistribution will be based on ensuring some of the cheques handed out to clubs will be spent on infrastructure, such as training grounds, rather than wages.

There will also be a renewed focus on merit in a bid to contain wage overspending at Championship level, with payments on a sliding scale based on position throughout the pyramid.

Other competitions in non-league have already approved plans to bring forward kick-off times. Club insiders told Telegraph Sport the move was an experiment to see how much costs could be saved.

The Football Association has given permission for several non-League competitions to move kick-off times earlier. In response to the survey, a spokesperson for the FA said: "The FA and County FAs are not-for-profit organisations that reinvest all of the money made back into football. Our priority over the past few seasons, including through the worst of the pandemic, is evidence of this approach as we worked to support grassroots clubs and the volunteers running them to survive the period and get back on their feet."