Mansfield Town start early to save on the floodlight bill

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Mansfield Town have become the first Football League club to move back kick-off times to reduce the use of floodlights amid the cost of living crisis.

The club’s League Two fixture on October 15 at home to Walsall will kick-off at 1pm rather than the scheduled 3pm.

“The club is working to mitigate the upcoming, significant increase in electricity bills,” the club said in a statement. “As part of these efforts, the earlier start time will allow the club to determine whether significant savings can be made in floodlighting and other energy costs.”

Telegraph Sport revealed earlier this week how the EFL board increased the use of floodlights and it will be discussed again by all clubs next week. Mansfield reportedly made a special application to the league with advice from security advisory groups.

Research by Fair Game claims almost two-thirds of lower league clubs would consider earlier kick-offs when bills rise in the winter.

The Better Governance Group said its research was based on “one club in the Championship, five in League One, six in League Two, nine in the National League, seven in the National League North, six in the National League South and five lower down the pyramid.

“Nearly all clubs surveyed were concerned or very concerned about the cost of living crisis,” the campaign group said. “On average out of 10, the clubs’ concern level was a massive 7.15 – a figure which was the highest among clubs in League Two (8.20).”

There are hopes that curbs on energy bills will help clubs get through the winter, but the situation is increasing pressure on the Premier League to complete 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 uproar sparked by Project Big Picture and the European Super League.

A key part of the new redeployment system will be based on ensuring that some of the checks given to clubs are spent on infrastructure such as training pitches rather than wages.

There will also be a renewed focus on merit in an attempt to curb overspending on salary at championship level, with pay on a sliding scale based on position in the pyramid.

Other non-league competitions have already confirmed plans to move kick-off times. Club insiders told Telegraph Sport the move was an attempt to see how much cost savings could be made.

The Football Association has given permission for several non-league competitions to move their kick-off times earlier. Responding to the survey, an FA spokesman said: “The FA and County Football Associations are not-for-profit organizations that reinvest all money earned back into football. Our priority over the last few seasons, including the worst of the pandemic, is testament to this approach as we working to support grassroots clubs and the volunteers who run them to get through this period and get back on their feet.”

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