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Clarke: Rovers infrastructure is “30 years behind the times”

By Jonny Leighfield

Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke thinks that the club is unable to reach its potential as their infrastructure is “30 years behind the times.”

Rovers, currently sitting in 15th, have not been able to mount a serious charge for promotion since ascending back to League One and Clarke believes that his side’s fortunes on the pitch need to be put in the context of the club’s position off it.

“Certainly we have a top-six fan base, so the expectation is never going to go anywhere,” he told BBC Radio Bristol.

“I’ve been preaching for a long while now, until this club gets a proper infrastructure, and the pressure is on to get that, it is difficult to keep moving forward and that’s got to be the case.”

Clarke was evidently frustrated that, despite his best efforts to achieve results on the pitch, the club were failing to come through on promises made in terms of the infrastructure.

“I put myself under intense pressure to get results and people should be under pressure to get things moving off the pitch because we’re 30 years behind the times and I’m sick of saying it,” he said.

The club has been blighted by a lack of off-field progress in recent times, epitomised by Bristol Rovers’ owner, Wael al-Qadi stating in August that the club will look to develop the Memorial Stadium instead of moving after plans fell through to build a brand new stadium at the University of West of England.

Meanwhile, Rovers’ owners, Dwane Sports Group, purchased 28 acres of land to build a new training ground on but slow progress has meant that the site might not even be ready for the start of next season.

Manager Clarke referenced other clubs at League One level with excellent facilities and stated everyone had to work hard to bring the club up to date.

“For me, our supporters deserve first-class facilities off the pitch,” said Clarke.

“We’ve got the Under-21s training on the council patch and we’ve got the youth team training on a facility that’s under water now. We’ve got to pull it all together.

“You look at the clubs, even on our level in League One. Fleetwood have a £7m training complex and Bury are bottom of the table but train on Manchester City’s old training ground.

“We’ve got to work hard. I know there is a lot of hard work going on in the background but we’ve got to push even more to get these facilities spot on,” he said.

This article was brought to you by The Football League Paper. On-sale every Sunday, the newspaper provides extensive coverage for all 72 Football League clubs with news, features and gossip plus comprehensive match reports.
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