New Meadow
The New Meadow, also known as the Greenhous Meadow for sponsorship purposes, is the home ground of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and is a UEFA Category three stadium. The stadium is situated on the southern outskirts of Shrewsbury, England, between the districts of Meole Brace and Sutton Farm. It was built to replace the Gay Meadow stadium, home of the Shrews since 1910. The ground was completed in the summer of 2007, in time for the 2007”“08 English football season. 'The New Meadow' was an unofficial name, used as the working title for ground during planning/construction, and along with other descriptive titles, such as 'Oteley Road Stadium' ( pronounced Ot-Lee) was used during the first year of its existence. However, on 21 July 2008, along with launching their new team-wear range, the stadium was named in honour of sports kit manufacturer Prostar, a sponsor that the club had spent a year looking for. The naming rights deal was supposed to last for four years , but only lasted two seasons. In April 2010, a public vote was held amongst supporters by club sponsor Greenhous on the name of the stadium, which was to include "Greenhous". A majority voted for Greenhous Meadow with reference to their previous stadium Gay Meadow.

The stadium
The stadium was constructed by Hall Construction, a construction company who have built several Football League stadiums and grandstands. It currently has a capacity of 9,875 seated spectators, with on-site supporters' bars, including plasma-screen TVs, showing re-runs of recent Shrewsbury matches, as well as live streaming football updates. In addition, there are several corporate and hospitality suites, which the club states will be used both on match days and for general community use, therefore assisting the club in gaining revenue. The stadium can expand to a capacity of up to 40,000 through future development if necessary. Following consultation with supporters groups, the stadium consists of blue seating, with the club's initials (STFC) spelt out in amber on each side of the ground. This is following considerable outcry when the club initially stated that seating would consist of the club's original blue and white colour scheme. Despite originally being blue and white, the club has adopted a distinctive blue and amber colour scheme since the 1970s, which many supporters feel is a unique and distinctive part of the club. Like many modern football grounds, the ground has 'cashless turnstiles', meaning that no payments are accepted on the turnstile itself. To obtain access to the ground, non season ticket holding spectators must purchase a ticket from the club in advance of the game, or on the day from ticket booths situated at the ground, (away fans have their own designated ticket booth)

Commercial and hospitality
The Club now also has a plush hospitality suite, offering services day and night, on a full week basis; this consists of one major restaurant and over ten corporate boxes, these are held for an array of occasions varying from businesses holding meetings or for clients to entertain business colleagues, private functions such as group meals and parties, and for other events for the public to attend such as Slimming World, football programme fairs and company meetings. The restaurant itself has earned rave reviews from local and far flung visitors, and is generating a constant flow of income for the club, coupled with this, many events such as charity balls, and sportsmans' dinners have been held at the club, enabling after-dinner speakers such as Ron Atkinson, Neil Ruddock and others to come to the club. Other events the stadium has held include an amateur boxing event in order to raise money for local charities. Greenhous Meadow now also has a fully operational clubshop open throughout the week; the club shop is now purpose-built, as opposed to being a stand-alone cabin, as they once had. The ground has good access to the A5 road/ A49 road (at the Shrewsbury by-pass), and also sits adjacent to the Shrewsbury to Hereford railway line (plans for a small halt for football supporters have been mentioned but there have been no firm plans for this.) The ground is adjacent to the large Meole Brace Retail Park and the Bannatyne's Health Club/ Meole Brace Municipal Golf Course complex, however neither site allows football supporter car-parking on match days. Although parking is limited, there is more car parking and far better vehicular access than at the club's old Gay Meadow. In February 2008 work was completed on a 7-pitch artificial turf complex by the company Powerleague. The complex is located within the grounds of the stadium, between the North Stand and Oteley Road. The company organises 5-a-side football tournaments as well as offering a 7-a-side pitch and bar facilities. Moving to the new ground, enabled the club for the first time, to win the award of 'League 2 Pitch of the Year' in 2007/08. The award had previously evaded the club owing to the situation of the previous pitch at Gay Meadow which was prone to flooding because of its proximity to the River Severn. The Club are also shortlisted for 'Family Club of the Year 2009' an award made on the criteria of the club's family facilities, along with the general operation of the club and stadium.

In November 2007, chairman Roland Wycherley announced that the ground would be expanded by filling in the corners between the Roland Wycherley Stand, South Stand and West Stand. This would leave the North Stand, which houses away fans, the only stand isolated. Capacity is expected to rise to around 12,500. A start date for this project has yet to be announced. Reports suggest this plan has been postponed indefinitely due to the current economic crisis and that the current match attendances do not merit ground expansion. Should the club become established at a higher level within the Football League, it is likely the ground would be expanded.

Reasons for moving from Gay Meadow
Shrewsbury Town chairman Roland Wycherley has been the driving force behind the move, as he first submitted planning application for the new ground as early as 1999 (considerable local opposition amongst other things meant building did not commence until mid 2006). Local media at the time cited Nene Park, home of Rushden and Diamonds as an influence behind the designs, in terms of the high level of build quality and attention to detail evident at the ground. A local property development company, Alaska Properties was the key to the success of the project. The company secured the land for the New Meadow and masterminded and funded (to almost £1m) the planning strategy, planning applications and even High Court Proceedings which eventually secured the permission. Then in a deal with Jennings Estates, Alaska eventually secured funding for the new stadium by gaining permission for redevelopment of the Gay Meadow as apartments. At present, where the Gay Meadow once stood, lies deserted as the company that owns the land to develop it into housing, has insufficient funds to do this.

Gay Meadow
Whilst the old Gay Meadow ground was homely with a good atmosphere, access to the ground was very poor, via a small back-street known as 'The Narrows'. This poor access meant that the capacity at Gay Meadow was slashed from 14,500 to 8,000 following the Taylor Report. This is in stark contrast to the official record attendance at Gay Meadow, 18,917 for the league match against Walsall on 26 April 1961. Local legend says over 22,000 were estimated to be inside the stadium in the league match against Wrexham on 21 August 1950, despite the official figure given as 16,000. Redevelopment of the old ground was cited as a possibility, however it had been stated that if the ground was accessible on all sides of the stadium with exit through the neighbouring Abbey Gardens, the stadium capacity could still only rise to no more than 10,000, the current capacity for the New Meadow. In addition, the Gay Meadow's location on the banks of the River Severn, whilst picturesque, meant the club suffered with flooding. Severe floods in 1998, 2000 and frequently since have affected the club badly, with several matches postponed, a flooded pitch and flooded offices and changing rooms. Supporters of the move claimed that the risk of flooding along with the Gay Meadow's cramped location, meant that a move to a new ground was essential in order for the club to remain as a Football League club.

The proposed move to the new ground was controversial, with some fans feeling the club was disregarding its history and should remain at Gay Meadow. However others were keen to move to the new ground, and saw it as an essential move if the club were to remain as a Football League club. The former Shrewsbury manager Gary Peters, in charge of the club during the move from Gay Meadow, often claimed that the prospect of playing at the new ground helped entice many of his players to the club. Opposition to the move has also come from outside of the football club, in particular from local residents who are concerned about disruption and extra traffic on match days. Many residents of the neighbouring Sutton Farm housing estate are against the move, and formed a protest group known as the Sutton Area Residents Association (SARA), protesting against the move due to the overcrowding. Since the initial planning applications were drawn up in 1999, SARA members have fought a campaign against the move, gathering petitions from the local residents, attending local council meetings and writing many letters to the local papers. Recently, SARA has criticised the football club after it controversially asked for permission to scrap plans to build community football pitches on the site, offering instead to donate £350,871 towards building them elsewhere in the town, where is it stated by the club they will be more widely used, the local council later admitted that this was a council officer suggestion after letters were leaked to the local press.

Transport systems
With the ground not being centrally located like Gay Meadow, concerns have been raised about travel arrangements. In response, the club has consulted with local authorities and produced a comprehensive brochure for fans, detailing travel arrangements for the new ground. Many local pubs will use shuttle buses, and the club will be operating a park and ride system for fans, using car parks near to the ground. In addition, special supporter buses will be running in Shrewsbury town centre and from across Shropshire. Strong talk of a railway halt being constructed behind the West Stand at the New Meadow, have been circulating for a while, however nothing has come to fruition as of yet.

Notable fixtures
The first match at the new ground was an 'All-Stars' friendly game as part of Shrewsbury Town's new sponsorship deal with Italian sportswear manufacturer A-Line, who made Shrewsbury's kit for the 2007-08 season. Heading the list of All-Stars players was Gianfranco Zola, with the team being managed by Ron Atkinson. The match took place on Saturday 14 July 2007, and Shrewsbury Town ran out 4”“0 winners, Shrewsbury striker Dave Hibbert taking the honour of being the first ever goalscorer at the new ground. The first competitive match at what was then called 'The New Meadow' was a League Cup match against Colchester United, of The Championship, two divisions above Shrewsbury. It took place on Tuesday 14 August 2007, Shrewsbury winning 1”“0 thanks to a header from Darran Kempson in extra time. The first league fixture ( League Two) was against Bradford City on Saturday 18 August, with Shrewsbury winning 1”“0 from a first half penalty scored by Dave Hibbert. The record crowd for a match at the stadium is 8,753 for England vs Spain, a Women's Euro 2009 Qualifier, played on 25 November 2007. The record crowd for a Shrewsbury Town match at the stadium is 8,429 vs Bury, in a League Two playoff semi-final on 7 May 2009. On 18 October 2010, it was announced that New Meadow has been selected as part of England's bid to host the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in 2013. However on 28/01/2011 it was ruled Israel will host the Under 21's Finals. An England under-20 international is due to take place there on 09/2/11


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