March 22nd 2021

When it comes to finding football floodlight funding – leave it to the experts

We’ve asked Patrick Daly, one of our National Sales Managers, to give us his views on the role funding can play when it comes to football floodlighting. From where it’s available to the best ways to get it, this short blog is essential reading if you’re looking for help with your floodlight funding.

Please note: This article was written at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, some details/references may no longer apply.

In these difficult times, you may think the chance of getting funding for your sports projects would be less than zero. That’s not the case though. In fact, some of sports leading bodies and governments around the world are actually making more money available to help clubs and organisations be ready for when we all return to ‘normal’.

Some funds are being earmarked to help facilities futureproof themselves against other possible pandemics with things like improved hygiene and signage measures.

Other funds, grants, and awards – especially those that have been in existence for some years – are being given to venues for capital projects. This includes projects such as floodlighting, so clubs can come out of these times ‘fitter and healthier’ than before.

In this short article, I’m going to focus on the types of funding available to help improve football floodlighting. I’ll be looking at UK’s Football Association (FA) and Football Stadium Improvement Fund (FSIF) grants in particular.

Firstly, one of the main points I want to get across is you don’t have to face the arduous task of sourcing funding yourself. We’re experts at doing it and are here to help. We’ve done it for lots of our clients around the world. We can do it for you too.

So, what funding do the FA and the FSIF offer?

The FA, along with its funding partners the Premier League and Sport England, has invested substantial sums into football through the Football Foundation. A charity dedicated to improving the facilities infrastructure across grassroots football, it’s delivered over £780m of facility improvements across 1,600 projects over the last 20 years.

The FSIF on the other hand awards capital grants to clubs from the Football League down to the lower levels of the National League system. FSIF grants provide assistance towards a wide range of stadium projects including the construction of stands, installation of floodlights, turnstiles or even relocating to an entirely new ground.

Other types of funding are available. For example, if your project as a whole – including your lighting upgrade or new build – can be shown to have a significant positive impact on your community, local and national government grants can be awarded. The secret, or rather skill, is knowing where and where not to apply.

Another way some clubs have raised money for their projects is crowdsourcing. Whilst you may not be able to fund your whole improvement schemes this way, some bodies look very favourably on applications that have local community input and matched contributions.

Obviously, FA and FSIF grants are only available for football clubs to apply for. Similar schemes are available for other sports from organisations like the Lawn Tennis Association, the Rugby Football Union, and from Sports England as a whole. Local and national government grants can apply to almost any sport too as long as there’s a compelling reason for them being awarded.

Once you’ve decided what grants you’ll be applying for comes the task of making the application itself. As you’d expect, you can’t just go to a funding body and ask for money. You need to put together a solid business case to show why your project should be given an award. The easiest way of going about this is to talk to us.

Our Design and Engineering teams will carry out an assessment of your current lighting – if you have any. They’ll produce a free lighting design that will achieve your objectives. Together with this, we’ll help complete your whole application to include, where needed:

  • Payback times.
  • Local environmental impact information.
  • Help to identify which planning applications you’ll need to gain.
  • Case studies that can help your business case.
  • Details of how our 10-Year Sports Lighting Warranty will protect their investment for years to come.
  • We can also give you information about how you can part-fund your project with our financing plans.
  • Plus more…

Or you could choose to do it all yourself.

Find out how we’ve helped other clubs get funding.

Finally, why should you even consider LED floodlighting for your venue?

Upgrading your club’s lighting to a Midstream LED solution doesn’t just give you much better lighting. It’s been proven, time and time again, to improve performance on the pitch too. That’s not all.

  • LED floodlighting can save you upwards of 70% on your energy bills.
  • Our products are UK manufactured for the best quality – saving you money on maintenance costs and downtime as well.
  • We even offer a 10-Year Warranty to cover your club against the unlikely event of something going wrong.
  • You’ll be guaranteed world-class lighting for years to come. How? Our LED football floodlighting designs and solutions always factor in the need for any changes that may occur – such as being promoted to a new league with extra lighting regulations. So there’s never a need to ‘scrap’ everything and start all over. Our lighting solutions will also help make sure you comply with any governing body’s regulations.
  • With virtually zero light spill, you’ll be doing your bit for your environment and neighbours as well.
  • The list goes on.

Interested? Get in touch today and we’ll kick things off with a no-obligation chat.

Patrick Daly - Sales Manager Midstream Lighting

Patrick Daly, National Sales at Midstream Lighting.

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March 19th 2021

The importance of facility partnerships for England Athletics

We’ve been working with England Athletics (EA) as its Official Lighting Partner for six months now. So, we’ve asked Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at EA, to tell us more about the role partnerships play in the development of athletics in England.

Ed, what’s your role at England Athletics involve?

I support the UK’s stock of athletics facilities by providing guidance and support in terms of things like sustainability, maintenance, good practice. I advise on the design and build of new, innovative athletics and running facilities too.

I also manage TrackMark – UK Athletics’ facility accreditation scheme. Its aim is to make sure all facilities meet certain standards across key areas including safety, rulebook compliance, and accessibility. So, again, it involves giving advice and guidance to facility operators across the UK and pointing them in the direction of approved suppliers like Midstream.

What sorts of challenges are these facilities facing to reach these minimum standards?

Good question… To give some context, the vast majority of synthetic track and field facilities in the UK were built in the 1980s and early 90s. This means there’s a lot of facility stock out there that’s over 30-years old. Looking purely at the synthetic track surface of these aging facilities, they typically need to be resprayed every seven years and fully resurfaced every 25 years. In the UK we estimate that around 50% of track stock has not been resprayed or resurfaced for at least ten years. This is a big challenge, but one that we are starting to address with the TrackMark programme.

It’s not just about the track of course. We look at all the elements that make up the field of play for track and field athletics, and floodlighting is absolutely an essential part of that. Competitively we’re a summer sport, but we’re a participation sport all year round. To support the continued development of our sport we need 365 days a year floodlighting provision that meets minimum safety standards. However, akin to track surfaces, the floodlighting at many venues has reached, or past, its operating lifetime. Depending on what type of floodlighting it is, particularly old systems like Metal Halide floodlighting, it’s almost certainly not delivering the minimum standards needed across the whole track and infield.

Our ambition as a sport isn’t to build lots of new 400m tracks – in most areas of the UK we have good coverage already. Critically, it’s about bringing that 30-year old stock up to the right standards.

What role does EA play with, not only the athletics clubs but, the wider community too?

We’ve got a team of Club Support Managers who work very closely with our member clubs and the local communities. Their job is to support clubs and make sure members and visitors have a great experience when they visit the track. Volunteer clubs are the driving force of athletics and they do far more than just deliver track and field coaching programmes. They also reach out to the local community to offer opportunities for everyone – from school-based activity to Couch to 5k. The work that our member clubs do is incredible and forms the bedrock of our sport.

Lockdown has shown us there’s a real appetite out there amongst a lot of people to get involved with running and athletics. It’s an easy access sport – it’s outdoor, and at its most basic level all you need is a pair of trainers.

I remember presenting at a conference once and I asked the delegates what their personal barriers to participation in running were. Their answers were pretty universal. Safe, well-lit routes. I responded by saying that the vast majority of them lived within 20 minutes of their local running track – a safe, well-lit venue with a consistent, forgiving surface!

We’ve got to get people over the hurdle of thinking track and field facilities are purely domains of the elite. They’re not. They are there for everyone. That’s not just about how we market, brand, and sell them. It’s also about how they look and feel and how we present them. For example, do tracks always need to be multi-lane 400m ovals? Can we look at new, and different ways of attracting more people? As an example, my local club is a safe, well-lit place to run. It’s got a 400m standard track but also an 800m cinder track running around the perimeter. This is a great alternative for a traditional track and a facility that’s heavily used by those starting out on their athletic journey.

Looking at the facility partner programme itself, what was the premise for it, how is it working so far, and what are the benefits it brings?

Since TrackMark was introduced in 2018, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of track surface refurbishments, track repairs, and floodlighting repairs and upgrades. But, to take it to the next level, we felt it would be ideal to partner up with companies in each of these three key areas. We wanted and needed to find partners who shared our strategic view in terms of the importance of facilities and creating models of provision that are both inspiring and sustainable. Partners that could help us to educate, increase awareness, and unashamedly speed along our drive to achieve minimum standards across all venues. When you have a group of partners working in the same direction, you can pull ideas together and create ready-made solutions to support athletics facility operators and clubs.

It’s all about that shared vision and the synergy between us, and how as one we can move facilities forwards – old and new. Giving people easy access to that knowledge and information is vital in all walks of the business. These partnerships really help us connect with people. It’s helping venues feel safe in what they’re committing to. There’s a real feeling with them that ‘If England Athletics back this, it’s got to be okay.’. The way that our partners are working together, both to inform of opportunities and collectively provide solutions to problems has been brilliant.

Our overall goal is to create a network of local, accessible, sustainable, and inspiring facilities for every person in England. Wherever you live, you’ve always got a local place to go to. Not an ‘Olympic’ stadium necessarily – but somewhere to run, jump, and throw all year round. Lighting is integral to that.

Sustainability has to underpin every facility model. So, just jumping back to my role, some of what I do is making sure we have the right facilities in the right places, and for many areas a 400m track is not appropriate and/or sustainable. However, a synthetic, floodlit running loop around a playing field may provide a perfect solution for some local clubs and communities. Our ambition in the UK is that everyone is within a reasonable distance of some form of athletics facility. For that, as I’ve said, we need good lighting.

Can you tell us more about how important a role has lighting got in delivering that?

It’s got a hugely important role. One of the first questions I ask when working with a client on a new facility project is ‘Have you thought of your lighting?’. Firstly because it’s vital, and secondly because of the importance of gaining upfront planning consent.

The right floodlighting is absolutely essential. Sport England recognises this. We recognise this. If there’s no adequate lighting at, or planned for, a venue how can it function during the dark, winter months? How can you possibly continue and have a sustainable programme of athletics development if you only use it in the summer months? People want that safe, lit place throughout the year – including the winter. If there’s no lighting plan for a facility development, then it’s pretty much a nonstarter for us and Sport England too.

Aside from the whole sustainability requirement, good floodlighting also enhances the whole experience. Who doesn’t like sports under lighting – either as a competitor or spectator. I used to be an 800m runner and there was nothing like racing under lights at the end of an evening. It was always a special feeling.

We recently worked with you to produce your Athletics Lighting Guide. How important is the educational aspect to yourself and the venues?

Very important. There’s a mystique to lighting. Not enough people know a lot about it. They probably think that as long as the lights come on when they flick the switch everything must be working okay. But it’s important everyone knows about the minimum standards of things like uniformity and lux levels across a whole track and field.

The British Standards’ guidance and documents aren’t the easiest to read and understand. So, what we needed was to make things as simple as possible for operators and clubs. A single, straightforward guide that explained everything in a concise fashion that would help them understand the importance of good lighting in terms of safety and user experience. Something that would let them make their own, quick audit of their facilities easily. Our guide does exactly that. It was only brought out a couple of weeks ago and I’ve already had a lot of positive feedback from both venue operators and clubs. Even World Athletics asked me for a copy!

For me, this clearly shows that there’s an appetite for educational support like this. Anything we can do with you to educate and improve awareness of lighting has got to be a good thing. It’ll help to make sure that when venues are looking to build or improve their facilities, appropriate lighting is placed front and centre of the project because the venue will truly understand its importance.

How has COVID affected England Athletics, the sport, and clubs?

Ask me again in six months. Seriously though, there was a lot of concern when the pandemic started and lockdown #1 began last March. I guess like many other sports we wondered what both the short-term and medium-term impact would be.

Fortunately, akin to other sports like golf and tennis, we were deemed a ‘safer’ sport and were released relatively early from lockdown early last summer. This meant we were able to put on 300 competitions last year, unlike a lot of other sports. Club-managed venues were absolutely at the forefront of this success. Although small in number, only 10% of athletics facilities are club managed, they were trailblazing in terms of getting the doors open and getting athletes running, jumping, and throwing again as soon as we came out of lockdown. I’m sure it’ll be the same again this summer as we hopefully approach something that resembles normality.

The challenge then, and now, is that the majority of track and field facilities are either local authority, leisure trust, educational, or commercially managed – with larger indoor facilities such as swimming pools and gyms. Throw in the fact that many leisure/sports venue staff remain on the Government’s furlough scheme and this creates a real air of uncertainty about when all athletics track venues will reopen.

We’ve done alright though compared to other sports like swimming who’ve been totally locked down for over a year. As a sport, we’ve tried really hard to engage with our members and those interested in running and athletics and throughout lockdown. For example, we’ve used the power of the digital age to run webinars and create content that encourages people to stay fit and active and enjoy the benefits of our great sport. I’m sure that when the summer finally comes that we will hit the ground running. There’s a real desire at clubs to get on with things again. To get training, events, and competitions going – even if it’s just at a local level to start with.

In terms of capital improvement work, you’d reasonably anticipate there being a downturn in work. But surprisingly, and really positively, this has not been the case. Indeed during the past 12-18 months, there’s been a significant uptick in capital improvement works. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that many venues have used these lockdown periods to take stock of their facilities and plan much-needed improvement work.

What’s the next big milestone the athletics community looking forwards to?

The Tokyo Olympics is one obviously, fingers crossed, and what it’ll do for the profile of athletics. Personally, I genuinely think though that the most exciting milestone for the majority of people will be that first club night. After over a year of not training or socialising with fellow club members, and coaches it’ll mean the world for so many people – athletes, coaches, and parents. It will for me, and I can’t wait.

Tell us a bit about your personal athletics history.

I’ve been a keen runner since school. I started out in 800m and 1,500 and have gradually worked my way up to a marathon runner. In the 2000s I completed ten marathons, including London, Amsterdam, Dublin, and New York.

My marathon days are probably behind me now though. But never say never. If my son gets interested in running a marathon, then maybe just maybe I’ll run around with him. Although I’m sure it will be highly unlikely I can keep up with him. He’s six now and faster than me!

Ed Hunt - England Athletics

Ed Hunt, Facilities and Planning Manager at England Athletics

Midstream Lighting Official Lighting partners of England Athletics
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Feb 15th, 2021

The Midstream Lighting & England Athletics Floodlighting Guide

Absolutely essential reading for athletics club’s facilities managers

As England Athletics’ Official Lighting Partner we’ve created a new, comprehensive Athletics Floodlighting Guide. It’s aimed at athletic clubs and their facilities managers and will help them understand more about the seemingly complex and daunting world of lighting.

We’ve asked James Brunt, our Director of Sports, to tell us more about the guide – why we’ve created it, what it’ll give club facility managers, and the importance of best-in-class LED lighting for athletics clubs. Here’s what he has to say.

Why we’ve created this guide

As pioneers of LED lighting from when we launched over 10 years ago, we’ve made it our mission to design and deliver world-beating LED lighting solutions.

That’s not all though.

As industry leaders, we see it as our responsibility to help educate different markets, such as sports, on what LED lighting can do for them.

That’s exactly what we’ve done with this guide for England Athletics. It also ties in perfectly with their strategic initiative to develop and improve facilities at clubs and venues across the country.

England Athletics Lighting Guide Midstream Lighting
What it’ll give athletics’ club facilities managers

Let me start by telling you what it won’t give them – a lot of impenetrable, scientific ‘mumbo-jumbo’. We’ve kept it all as clear and easy to understand as possible. Even when we’ve had to use an industry term, like Uniformity, we’ve explained what it’s all about.

What does it give then?

Basically, it’s been developed to give club facilities managers an introduction to track and field athletics floodlighting standards and how these standards relate to them.

  • They’ll learn what standards they need to achieve to be compliant with athletics governing bodies’ regulations. With different rules applying to different levels and types of athletics, it’s vital they know which apply to them. It also shows them how they can future proof their lighting for and changes that may happen, like moving up a league.
  • It gives details of the basic equipment needed to analyse, and have a better understanding, of their current floodlighting. Apart from an LED light meter, which only costs around £100 or so, the only other equipment they need is a tape measure, marker objects, a bit of board, and a pen. It really is that basic. It’s how it’s used that counts.
  • It features a step-by-step guide to allow them to easily self-assess their lighting levels around all their grounds. This isn’t as difficult as it may appear. But if they use the wrong equipment, take readings at the wrong time of day, or in the wrong places, all their work will be for nothing. So, the guide also highlights all the common mistakes they need to avoid.
  • Plus, it lets them know what they have to do to improve their lighting. If it’s needed.
Why best-in-class LED lighting is so important for athletics clubs

There are many advantages of improved lighting around athletics. The key benefits can be summarised as:

  • Reduced energy costs. We’ve cut energy bills by up to 70% for some clients when switching their old metal halide floodlights for LED ones. In a world where the bottom line is being squeezed harder and harder this can only be a good thing.
  • Less maintenance. With the cost of bulbs, the equipment needed to fit them, staff time and costs, not to mention downtime, maintaining traditional metal halide athletics floodlighting systems isn’t cheap. Another ‘plus’ for a club’s bottom line when they switch to LED floodlighting. Also, just imagine what it’d do for a club’s reputation if its system were to go down mid-meeting. This won’t happen with an LED system.
  • Greatly extended opening hours. Clubs will be able to keep their facilities open for longer. This can lead to increased revenue and help attract new members too.
  • Improved safety and security. Failing to meet health and safety regulations can cost clubs a great deal if there’s an accident that could have been avoided. Security issues can cause a host of problems for clubs too – personal and financial.
  • Making sure a club’s lighting is compliant with national and international regulations. If a club’s facilities aren’t up to scratch, especially the lighting, it can cause them all sorts of issues. They could mean removal from a league… records not being allowed to count… the list goes on.
  • Reduce light pollution. Our athletics LED floodlights spill less light around surrounding areas. This is something a club’s neighbours will greatly appreciate.
  • Future-proofing a club’s lighting for years to come. Our LED floodlighting systems are versatile and easily adaptable. So if things change, for example, new regulations being introduced or a club being promoted to a new league, our LED lighting can quickly be upgraded without the need to ‘scrap’ everything and start all over.
  • Achieving the lighting levels needed to host a televised event. If a club is invited to hold an event that’s going to be broadcast, it needs the perfect lighting to do it. This need can be built into our lighting designs for the very start. Or we can easily install a temporary, portable upgrade to meet the levels required.

As you can see there are lots of compelling reasons why an athletics club should upgrade to Midstream’s world-beating LED lighting.

James Brunt, Director of Sports, Midstream Lighting.

James heads up our Sports Lighting Division. With 16 years’ industry experience, spanning the delivery of grassroots facilities all the way through to world-class sporting stadiums, James is a trusted advisor throughout the industry and recognised for his unrivalled expertise.

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January 20th, 2021

The State of Play: Covid-19 and the world of sports

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us all into difficult and uncertain times – personally and professionally – isn’t an overstatement. Far from it. Wherever you are, whatever you do, we’ve all seen our lives change dramatically. This is particularly true in the world of sports, especially team and major spectator sports where participation and footfall are essential to survival.

So we’ve asked Ross Baxter, our Senior Sports Advisor, to give us his view on what’s happening now in the sports world and what the future holds after COVID-19 has gone.

Ross, what are you seeing going on for sports clubs and venues at the moment?

If we were having this conversation a couple of months ago, my answers would have been very different. At that time, we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to governments around the world supporting clubs and venues, many had managed to get through the most difficult times. Restrictions were being lifted. Vaccines were on the way. Sport’s governing bodies were even starting to implement ‘return to sport’ protocols.

Then the new variants of the virus started to appear. This hasn’t plunged us right back to square one yet, but it’s driven us near it. So, again the focus for virtually all sports clubs and venues has been switched back to:

  • Having enough cash to keep their heads above water.
  • Making sure they’ve got a viable operation to come back to when a real ‘new normal’ kicks in.
  • They’ve got players, members, and supporters who want to return to them.

Indoor sports have been hit very hard by the pandemic. Social distancing rules have had a massive impact. That’s not all they’ve had to face though. A lot of indoor sports, like swimming and basketball, rely on local authority venues for training and events. These authorities are on the whole risk-averse and have closed their sites. This has left these sports with no way to generate any income at all. This means they’re facing great commercial pressures and may or may not stay afloat in the months to come.

Outdoor sports have also been curtailed due to social distancing regulations. For example, ticket sales revenue has disappeared for them. However, a lot of their outgoings – the day-to-day running and staff costs, utility bills, etc. – have been reduced. A lot of these clubs might be in a ‘let’s see what happens’ mode before they commit to any new plans.

Those clubs though that have been well managed and have capital reserves, or that have secured the financial help that’s out there, are still going ahead with projects.

Another big issue they’re having to face is getting planning permission. Local authority planning departments have, rightly so, been using all their capacity on COVID-19 restriction measures. This means fewer projects have been given the red light and there’s a huge backlog of requests waiting to get through.

Where projects are being planned, are there any additional things that need to be considered?

The fundamentals haven’t changed. The key things they still need to take into account are:

  • What facilities have we got?
  • What are their shortfalls?
  • How do we plug them?
  • What will we get out of completing this project – more players and spectators, more income, a safer and more welcoming venue?

ROI is still king. Though a really strong and robust emphasis on what is really needed, why, and what a project will deliver in terms of ROI is more crucial than ever. For example, with COVID-19, its variants, and any other future pandemics, clubs will be looking at whether the impact on the playing of sports can be mitigated in the future. Will investing in facility design, the flow of people around a venue, additional hygiene measures, and so on put them in a good place going forwards and lift these projects to the top of their priority list.

What will this mean for venue floodlighting in particular?

From a lighting perspective, when ‘return to sport’ protocols start to kick in again, it could be argued there will be a greater need for improved lighting. A lot of these protocols will focus on, amongst other things, continuing to have social distancing where possible e.g. at training grounds, with fewer people in a larger area.

Clubs will also be looking at ways to boost revenues. So they may be considering introducing new floodlighting to extend their opening hours and get more people using their facilities outside of normal playing hours.

Some of them will be looking at the added benefits LED lighting can bring. Benefits such as the ability to improve the spectator experience with LED light shows during the build-up and intervals at games, as a way to get more people to events.

Others will also be looking at the impact LED lighting can have on their cash flow and bottom line. The introduction of LED floodlighting has been proved to cut some club’s electricity costs by a huge 70%. That’s money that could be used for other club objectives such as increased hygiene measures. Or they can simply be ‘tucked away’ for another rainy day.

What’s happening with new lighting installations and retrofit projects?

For those that have the capital to keep projects moving, and have very little outgoings at the moment, now’s almost the perfect time to get things done.

  • There’ll be less happening and fewer people around. Which makes it easier and safer for the installers and the venue employees. So, a lot of clubs, schools, universities, and privately owned sites are bringing forwards projects they may have waited until the summer months for as usual to complete.
  • With less market demand, they may be able to negotiate a better price from contractors. Although, this could be offset by a rise in the costs of parts needed if they’re in short supply.
  • By their very nature, sports clubs thrive on activity. With little happening on the playing front, they may be switching their focus to what they can do with their facilities. Their volunteers, committee members, coaches, and managers will probably have more time to dedicate to this also.

These are just some of the sorts of reasons we’re still seeing projects taking place.

What lessons or fundamental changes do you think are to be learned from this crisis?

From a practical point of view, there will be lots of lessons to learn, particularly with things like hygiene across a lot of sporting clubs. The task of getting risk assessed and understanding how secure a facility is will really make clubs think about their approach in the future – a good thing in terms of fan, staff, and player welfare.

Clubs will appreciate, even more, how important it is to have a tight ship in terms of costs and understanding what’s most important for them. Those that entered this with very high outgoings and that weren’t as sustainable as perhaps they should have been will have had a sharp reality shock.

Those clubs that have always really understood, and had control, of what their outgoings were in terms of utilities, wages, and associated costs will be far better placed to move forward.

When it comes to facility planning itself, a lot of the process of thinking about how a club is presented to the public and how the public uses its facility has been highlighted more than it has been in the past. Clubs will really understand how important it is to have really strong links with the local community. They’ll appreciate how the community access it and see it as a safe and secure place, which will make a really big difference to how many people go and use it. This could be another reason clubs look to extend their opening hours and need improved lighting.

What about the future?

The big question is what ‘return to sport’ will look like. Many people will have found a lot of different ways of exercising and using their free time and space. So, it’s whether they will want to choose to play or volunteer in a sport that they did before. This will start to shape what club membership looks like and in some cases that will mean big changes are to come.

In terms of spectator sports, people have truly missed not being there to cheer their favourites on. I think in the short to medium term, and hopefully beyond, this will mean clubs and venues will probably see a boost in gate numbers. Players have missed spectators too – so that will help inspire them further again.
The next six months or so will obviously move things on. As vaccines are being rolled out, it will be interesting to see how quickly sports participation re-establishes itself. Whilst it’s happening, ‘lone sports’ like golf will still be to the fore in terms of exercise, with multi-participant sports following behind. From a spectator point of view, we’ll need to see how willing people are to go a sit next to a stranger while vaccination programmes are being rolled out.
One thing sports clubs and venues need to remember though is that probably the majority of people who take part in sporting activities will be lower down or last on the vaccine priority lists. This will mean these sports and venues will lag behind other aspects of life when it comes to getting back to a semblance of what they were before.

For some clubs and local authorities, that have teetered along in the current climate, the impact of vaccines will come too late. What happens to their venues, who will snap them up, and what will they use them for could see some local sports suffer greatly.

I truly hope it doesn’t happen, but if we have to continue down the path where sports must be played in smaller groups in larger areas there will be opportunities arise for facility providers like us. I think we’d all prefer to see life ‘on and off the pitch’ return to what it was, however.

One thing is certain though. There’ll be a lot of new things for us all to get used to from now on.

About Ross Baxter: Midstream’s Senior Advisor – Sport

With over twenty years leading sports facility planning, design, and delivery – in the public, private, and voluntary sectors – Ross brings a huge amount of significant knowledge to our team.

At Midstream he works to promote, design, and deliver LED sports floodlighting projects to end-users either on a new build or retrofit basis.

A highly experienced senior leader and programme manager, Ross thrives on improving performance, identifying opportunities, and developing innovative solutions. Previously, as the Head of Facility Investment at the Rugby Football Union Ross delivered clubhouse, floodlighting, and pitch projects valued at over £300m. During his time there he was instrumental in creating a series of innovative commercial supplier and consultant frameworks.
When not working, Ross is a Rugby Union Level Four coach and mentor.

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November 18th, 2020

Lighting the way for England Athletics

Midstream Lighting has been appointed as the Official Lighting Partner of England Athletics. So, we’ve asked Michael Short, Head of Marketing at Midstream, to tell us more about how this partnership started and what it means for both England Athletics and Midstream.

Midstream Lighting Official Lighting partners of England Athletics
Hi Michael. How did this partnership with England Athletics begin?

England Athletics was looking to build a group of partners to help them with their strategic vision of increasing standards and improving facilities across their 1,400 affiliated clubs. They didn’t have a lighting partner, so we approached them. And from the very first meeting, it was obvious there was a perfect fit between us.

Why was that?

We don’t enter into partnerships lightly. We believe for them to work both organisations need to have values and goals that really align. That was definitely the case between England Athletics and us. We both have integrity as an important value – it’s our first. And a culture of learning and development is very close to both our hearts.

What will Midstream be bringing to England Athletics?

One of the objectives of this partnership is to educate and support all the England Athletics’ facilities across the country – from the grassroots to the elite. So, we’ll be offering the entire England Athletics community a host of webinars, in-person training, and supportive guides so they can understand exactly what we as a team can achieve. That’s not all. They’ll also be able to take advantage of our lighting health checks, consultation services, advice on financial support and grants, plus lighting designs for their clubs – all for free.

Our core benefits, such as vastly cutting energy and maintenance costs, and future-proofing venues for years to come, will help them free up money to invest in athletes’ performance too.

Improved lighting will also mean clubs can get more people participating all year round at all times of the day, including at night. And it’s been shown time and time before that better-quality club facilities help improve performance.

What will this mean for Midstream in return?

Obviously there will be potential business opportunities that develop through this partnership. But it means much more than that for us as a whole. As well as working on major sporting projects, we’ve got a great deal of experience working at the grassroots level. A lot of the team here have experience playing at that level too. And for us, this partnership will allow us to work closely with an organisation that’s taking athletes from the grassroots right through to the Olympics. To be able to support these clubs and see the results of the work we’ve done coming through is going to be so exciting and highly rewarding.

Michael Short, Head of Marketing, Midstream Lighting.

Michael has over ten years’ experience in successfully helping businesses within the luxury, technology, digital, automotive, and finance markets to thrive and grow. Well versed in lead generation campaigns, re-branding, implementing technology and growing teams, Michael is an innovative and results-driven marketer – accustomed to running marketing divisions internationally. He’s no stranger to change and loves a challenge.

He now oversees the strategic direction, generation, implementation and distribution of all marketing and communications for Midstream Lighting. Providing the highest level of marketing quality, Mike leads from the front and is key in launching our bespoke products that are changing critical infrastructures all over the world.

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November 4th, 2020

The lights come on at AFC Wimbledon’s ‘new’ home – thanks to Midstream

James Brunt, Sports Director.

November 3rd 2020 was a historic day for AFC Wimbledon. After an absence of over 20 years the Dons, as they’re known, were able to return to Wimbledon and host the first match at their newly built Plough Lane stadium.

Wimbledon FC – not to be confused with AFC Wimbledon – played at the Plough Lane stadium for over 80 years. However, in 2001, a consortium of businessmen persuaded them to relocate the club to Milton Keynes – over 60 miles away. And they changed their name to Milton Keynes Dons FC. A large number of fans weren’t happy with this move and decided to launch a new club and start all over again at the bottom of English football. AFC Wimbledon was born.

Even though they couldn’t play at Plough Lane any longer and had to share grounds with Kingstonian FC and QPR, the fans stuck with them. Their loyalty was quickly rewarded. AFC Wimbledon was promoted six times in thirteen seasons – taking them from the ninth tier to the third – League One. They also hold the record for the longest run of unbeaten English senior team league games – 78 from February 2003 to December 2004. They’re the first club formed in the 21st century to make it into the Football League too.

AFC Wimbledon Logo

“This project has held a special place in my heart though. Seeing the lights go on! Incredible”

Here at Midstream Lighting we handled the whole lighting project for the new Plough Lane stadium something we’re immensely proud of. For me when you work on any project and you’re there to see your hard work come to life it’s always a moment to be extremely proud and this was no exception.

This project has held a special place in my heart though. I’ve been involved in it for over five years now, initially working with architects and consultants on the design concepts for the new stadium. And to see it all the way to through completion and the incredibly loyal ‘Dons’ fans return to their spiritual home – albeit ‘virtually’ for now because of COVID-19 – has been a wonderful journey. The new stadium will also have a huge impact on the regeneration of the local area. So knowing that is really rewarding too.

“Collaboration has been imperative on this project”

As this has been a totally ‘newbuild’ project there have been a lot of different companies we’ve collaborated with. World-renowned architects KSS, who has worked on many major sports stadia globally, was responsible for the overall design and involved us from the very early concept stage. The main contractor was Buckingham Group – who we’ve worked with often before. And the M&E contractor for the project was Front Five Building Services.
I think it’s fair to say together we made an amazing team, and the results speak for themselves. (Thanks to everyone involved).

“Always on time, on spec and on budget”

We designed, manufactured, and installed the whole LED lighting for the project including the installation of two 25m masts. To provide the lighting levels required for League One we used 52 of our proprietary Modus R Series floodlights. A lightweight, extremely versatile, high powered series, the Modus R has been designed for both retrofit and newbuild sports stadia projects. And it delivers low-glare, broadcast ready, flicker-free ready LED lighting.
Our in-house lighting design team also future-proofed the whole solution so that if, or we should say when, the Dons get promoted to the Championship League the system can be quickly upgraded to meet the lighting levels needed there too. And of course, as we do with every Midstream project, we delivered it on time, on spec, and on budget.

As soon as you get the chance, head down to Plough Lane and see the power of LED sports lighting in action. You’ll also be guaranteed to see some great action on the pitch too.

Come on the Dons!

AFC Wimbledon - Football Lighting

James Brunt, Director of Sports, Midstream Lighting.

James heads up our Sports Lighting Division. With 16 years’ industry experience, spanning the delivery of grassroots facilities all the way through to world-class sporting stadiums, James is a trusted advisor throughout the industry and recognised for his unrivalled expertise.

Recent Sports Blogs

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Sep 22nd, 2020

Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

Depending on where a club is based and what level it plays at the rules governing the quality of pitch lighting needed can vary greatly.

The Football Association (FA) has its own rules. As do the Scottish Football Association (SFA), and the Football Association of Wales (FAW). And all clubs in each of these associations playing at a premier level are governed by the Union of European Associations (UEFA) regulations.

So, to help you understand what regulations your club has to comply with we’ve created this simple guide. It covers the regulations for each association in turn. Each one has its own classification system. So, we’ve put a note below each chart to let you know how they are ordered.

We’ve also pulled together a quick ‘at-a-glance’ chart to make comparing them as easy as possible.

Two terms you need to know

The two metrics used to grade lighting used here are lux and uniformity. Here’s what they mean in layman’s terms:

  • Lux – A measure of the intensity of light that hits a surface. The higher the lux, the brighter the light.
  • Uniformity – The uniformity of illuminance in terms of how evenly light is distributed over a given surface. The higher the figure, the more evenly light is spread.
Help is at hand

We’ve tried to keep this guide as simple as possible. If there’s anything you don’t understand, or you have any questions, we’re here to help. Just call us on +020 8038 7432 and one of our Sports Lighting specialists will be happy to help.

The FA Regulations
Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

N.B. In this chart Grade G is the lowest level and Grade A the highest. League and Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

This Chart is from Page 5 of the FA Guide to Floodlighting Regs: see the full guide here.

The SFA Regulations
Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

Chart is from page 29 of the Scottish FA Club licensing manual.

Clubs are required to have a floodlight system at the ground. To meet the Platinum standard not shown in the above chart, the club will be able to provide a back-up power supply which will provide two-thirds of normal power.

In the case of a Platinum, the floodlighting lux level is required to be: Average – 1200 lux and 0.45 uniformity

N.B. In this chart Bronze is the lowest level and Platinum the highest. Scottish Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

FAW Regulations
CategoryLuxUniformity
Tier 1500 luxN/A
Tier 2250 luxN/A
Tier 3250 luxN/A

N.B. In this chart Tier 3 is the lowest level and Tier 5 the highest. Cymru Premier League clubs are covered by UEFA Regulations.

UEFA Regulations
Football Pitch Lighting: England, Scotland, Wales, and UEFA

Chart is from Page 12 of the UEFA Stadium Infrastructure Regulations Guide: see the full guide here.

N.B. In this chart Grade 1 is the lowest level and Grade 4 the highest.

An ‘at-a-glance’ comparison

This chart compares the lux and uniformity levels of each regulatory body.

Regulatory bodyTheir classification groupingLux levelUniformity
FAGrade A (Step 1) Conference2500.25
Grade B (Step 2) Conference1800.25
Grade C (Step 3) Conference120 (180)0.25
Grade D (Step 4) Conference120 (180)0.25
Grade E (Step 4-5) Conference120 (180)0.25
Grade F (Step 5) Conference120 (180)0.25
Grade G (Step 3) Conference120 (180)0.25

N.B. Where the lux levels are given as ‘120 (180)’, the 120 figures show the minimum for any existing lighting systems. 180 figures show the lux levels that will need to be achieved if there is a lighting upgrade at any point.

Regulatory bodyTheir classification groupingLux levelUniformity
SFAPlatinum2500.25
Gold1800.25
Silver120 (180)0.25
Bronze120 (180)0.25
Entry120 (180)0.25
WFATier 1500N/A
Tier 2250N/A
Tier 3250N/A
UEFACategory 41,4000.5
Category 31,2000.4
Category 28000.4
Category 1N/AN/a

N.B. Category 1 clubs lux levels don’t apply. However, they should be high enough for matches to be broadcast.

Get in touch if you want to know more

This is just a quick, introductory guide on football pitch lighting. If you’d like to know more – from the benefits to the pitfalls to avoid – our Sports Lighting specialists are here to help.

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May 19th, 2020

Meet Patrick Daly – the latest ‘key player’ on our team

As any team manager will tell you, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. It doesn’t hurt though to have a complete team of key players on your side. This is especially true if they can ‘play’ in any position – just like the latest transfer to the Midstream team.

In this edition of ‘Meet the team’ we’re talking to Patrick Daly. A keen sportsperson, hence the sporting metaphors above, he’s joining us as our new National Sales Manager – working across all our sectors.

Hello Patrick

Could you tell us a little about your background?

P.E. – or Phys Ed. as it’s also known – was always my favourite subject at school. This led to me studying for a BSc in Sports and Exercise Science in 2003 and working as a fitness instructor for a couple of years. I then went on to gain a master’s degree in Sports Management.
With these two qualifications under my belt, I ended up as a call centre consultant in a stocks and shares company. Not quite the job I was looking for. But I’m so glad I took it as the sales training and qualifications I got there stood me in great stead for the rest of my career. Following a short period of working in the insurance industry, I joined Abacus, working within Sports Lighting for the UK –in 2013, where I’ve been until now

What made you want to join us?

I’ve loved my time at focusing on Sports Lighting in my previous role. I worked with some great clients, including Lords MMC, Sussex CCC at the Oval, Kempton Park Racecourse, and Chelsea FC to name just a few. And, even though I say it myself, I was very successful there. Then this fantastic opportunity to join Midstream came along and I just couldn’t resist it. There are so many reasons why. It’s such a dynamic and forward-thinking company, with a huge potential to grow and grow. The expertise, service, and products offered are second to none. Personally, it also gives me the chance to take on new challenges, get a better understanding of the industry as a whole, and further my career – at Midstream!

Where are you based and what will your role cover?

As National Sales manager I suppose I don’t really have a home ground (cliché I know!) but very true. My role covers all the UK so there will be plenty of travel taking me to wherever partners, clients and projects need me. I’ll be looking to support all our sectors advising and guiding clients on the best lighting solution available to solve the challenges they face in aviation, sports and maritime.

Tell us more about your love of sports – what do you play, your top teams and venues

I used to be a keen football, cricket, rugby, and American football player. But I badly hurt my knee ligaments and had to give it all up. I’m still a very voluble ‘sofa-supporter’ though. When it comes to football, like many young kids, I grew up supporting the same teams as my Dad – Manchester United and England. I still do to this day. For rugby and cricket, it has to be England – we did invent them both after all. For obvious reasons, Old Trafford as a venue holds a special place in my heart. However, when it comes to history and aesthetics though, it has to be the ‘Home of Cricket’ – Lords.

Apart from watching sports, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Even though my playing days are over, keeping fit is important to me. So, I now do a lot of cross-country walking and yoga. I love a bit of culture now and again too – so the theatre and cinema are always high on my list of things to do. When it comes to holidays, I’m happy with a city break or spending time on the beach. And last, but by no means least, great food and fine wines. I do have to keep an eye on my waistband though

And for a little fun, tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know?

When I was at University I played American Football and was the first player in the University’s long history of playing the game to return a kick-off for a touchdown!

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