Soccer pitches across the UK are set to be enhanced thanks to a £7m scheme from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.
The Pitch Preparation Fund was set up in support of the game, which is currently facing unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is providing grants to clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams during this difficult period and helping them to get their pitches ready for when it is safe to play soccer again, following Government advice.
The response to the Fund has been positive, with around 3,000 applications received in the two-and-a-half weeks the application window was open during May.
As a result, £7m of investment has been awarded to 2,902 clubs and organizations. This will allow 9,588 football pitches to be made match-fit, benefiting 33,153 football teams in the grassroots, non-league and women’s game, as well as every club in the Welsh Cymru Premier League.
The Pitch Preparation Fund’s impact in numbers:
A total of 2,902 grants awarded
£7m of investment
9,588 football pitches improved
33,153 football teams benefiting
2,196 grassroots clubs awarded grants
706 clubs in the National League System awarded grants
1,138 grants will support women and girls’ football
All 12 Welsh Cymru Premier League clubs awarded grants
May 2020 saw a 176% increase in general Football Foundation applications when compared to the same period last year.
As a result of the exposure of the Pitch Preparation Fund, the Football Foundation also received an increase of 176% in its regular facility grant applications during May 2020, compared with May 2019. This means even more football sites will be improved, over and above those receiving Pitch Preparation Fund grants.
Robert Sullivan, interim chief executive officer of the Football Foundation, said: “We’ve been delighted by the response to the Pitch Preparation Fund when it launched just a few weeks ago.
“Our national game can’t take place without playing surfaces being in good condition so this £7 million of investment provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government is an important helping hand for clubs across the country to get their pitches match-fit for when matches are allowed to start up again.”
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s chief executive officer, said: “The positive response to this initiative across the football community has been very encouraging and we remain committed to supporting clubs through this uncertain period. This fund will help clubs to carry out vital work and prepare pitches for when it’s safe for the game to resume.”
Jay Cotton from Connah’s Quay Nomads Football Club, who were awarded a Pitch Preparation Fund grant, said: “This was one of the clearest and simplest grant applications I’ve ever made. Really transparent and took little time to complete. In these challenging times, grant aids and support is going to be key for all clubs.”
The grants awarded will help with essential maintenance works toward grass pitches, including vertical decompaction, slitting, over seeding, fertilizing and weed-killing, as well as routine preparatory works such as grass cutting and the setting out and line-marking of pitches. For artificial surfaces, eligible works include deep cleaning, overmarking and FA pitch testing.
In addition to grassroots clubs benefitting from the scheme, 673 non-league, Women’s Super League and Welsh Cymru Premier League clubs have been supported via the Premier League’s Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
Clubs and other organizations are also being given access to the Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community. This is a free online resource the Foundation developed with The FA and the Grounds Management Association, containing advice and guidance.