Forest Green Rovers have announced that Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has become the club's second largest stakeholder.
The Spaniard’s investment in the League Two side has been made due to his admiration for the clubs sustainability ethos and his belief that players have a responsibility to support in creating awareness of environmental issues.
Bellerin has made no secret of the passion he has for conservation, which saw him pledge to plant 3,000 trees for every game that Arsenal won after the Premier League was resumed in June.
“I was really excited when I first discovered the opportunity to get involved at Forest Green Rovers – and the brilliant work the club is already doing,” started Bellerin. “It’s important that I invest in things I am passionate about – and I’m excited to help push football into having a sustainable future.
“Forest Green Rovers prove to clubs who say ‘they don’t have resources to be sustainable’ – that it is possible. With the new stadium, being carbon neutral and vegan, the club is doing some mind-blowing work.
“People have a universal love of football, so there’s no better industry to promote sustainability – and what we can do as football supporters to be more environmentally conscious.
“I became a vegan around three years ago and at first, I just wanted to try it and detox my body. Initially, I thought I’d eat meat as a ‘treat’ – but, being vegan just worked for me. After a month of being vegan, I felt stronger – and I didn’t struggle with ankle injuries anymore. I began to feel more energetic on the pitch – and I began to notice a real difference.”
Forest Green Rovers chairman, Dale Vince added: “I like Hector’s approach, his personal journey and the things he’s trying to do – they make sense. I’m looking forward to working with him on our projects at FGR and this wider agenda we have a shared interest in.”
In 2010, the club found itself in financial difficulty, leading to Ecotricity founder Vince to get involved with the club to help improve upon its social and environmental impact. Five years later, in 2015, the club became the first to go completely vegan and is still the only certified vegan team in the world. In 2017, the club reached the Football League after defeating Tranmere Rovers 3-1 in the play-off final.
Moreover, the club is powered by green energy, the pitch is organic and cut by an electric ‘mow-bot’ that is powered by the sun, rainwater is collected for pitch irrigation and they provide EV chargepoints from the Electric Highway.
They plan to go even further by building a brand new, 5,000 capacity stadium called Eco Park, which will be made entirely out of wood in the near future.
Author: Jake Wilkin