Besides attractions such as the stadium’s 46.92kW Photovoltaic system-topped terrace roof; the world’s first organic pitch, and even The Green Man pub, Forest Green Rovers had even more to offer the public with Manchester United paying a visit at the weekend.
As a means of publicising the campaign Sustainability in Sport (SIS), the game itself – ending in a 2-2 draw – was probably the least significant feature of the event at New Lawn, Stroud, attended by sustainability champion and England football coach Gary Neville as well as a crowd of 3,200.
Neville joined Ecotricity founder and FGR chair Dale Vince in setting up SIS and is determined their declaration of war on carbon and red meat will not be in vain.
Neville said: "I see sustainability as a journey for me, during which I will adapt and develop my lifestyle to minimise impact and maximise benefit to the community I live within. I am just trying to do my bit as positively as I can, just as I did when I played football.
"The creation of Sustainability in Sport marks the achievement of a personal ambition of mine, which I have held for some time. I believe that the issues we will tackle and the benefits we will deliver will be felt by all and I really hope to generate as much support as I possibly can."
Neville added: "We had a little chat with people at (Manchester) United and these were young players who felt it was an important day for themselves. These are players who Sir Alex Ferguson will believe can go on and play in the first team. It was a challenge against a competitive team and was a part of their football education.
"The majority of people connected with sport are the fans in their local communities, though, rather than the players in the squad, and they are the people we want to affect most. To engage with those fans is our challenge in the next few years. Clubs might have a sponsor who’s a local food supplier and fans will go and buy from that food supplier and so on.
"Clubs can be pioneers in their own right by spreading the sustainability message and becoming more efficient. It’s the role model effect. Fans follow clubs religiously so it’s important we get sport onside first. But the ultimate goal is to connect with every football, rugby, cricket, every sports fan and for them to think they should do it themselves."