FA provides millions to help grassroot UK soccer clubs return to sport

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Following the recent £7m investment in the UK’s soccer pitches, the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, are making a further £2.19m to help clubs return from the pandemic.

The new Club Preparation Fund will help soccer clubs and community organizations to prepare their buildings to safely reopen in line with Government guidance around hygiene and social distancing.  Grants of £500 are being made available through the Fund and more than 4,000 grassroots clubs and organizations across the country will be able to benefit.

Grassroots soccer clubs and organizations, FA National League System clubs, Welsh Cymru Premier League clubs, and clubs in The FA Women’s Pyramid that own their own facility or have at least 12 months’ security of tenure, are all eligible to apply for funding.

Club Preparation Fund grants will enable clubs to satisfy extra hygiene measures that Government guidance requires.  This includes:

The installation of hygiene facilities such as hand sanitizer dispensers, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and waste bins;

Modifications such as safety screening, contactless payment systems and signage

Facility maintenance work, such as repairing hand basins and hot water provision;

Professional inspections that may be necessary due to the prolonged period of closure resulting from the pandemic – including inspections of water quality, gas and ventilation.

The Club Preparation Fund follows the £7m Pitch Preparation Fund, which is benefiting 9,588 pitches and is a continuation of football and Government’s support for clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The FA recently released guidance to help providers of outdoor football facilities achieve the Government’s guidelines. Providers will need to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment, then adapt their facilities via three key ‘controls’: promoting good hygiene; keeping facilities and equipment clean; and maintaining social distancing and avoiding congestion.

Robert Sullivan, interim chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “We had a great response to the recent Pitch Preparation Fund, with clubs welcoming our emergency support to get nearly 10,000 playing surfaces across the country match-fit.

“The Club Preparation Fund is a continuation of the support to assist the return of football by helping clubs prepare their buildings for the COVID-19 environment.

“Any organizations that need help should apply via footballfoundation.org.uk before the deadline of 19 July.”

Premier League chief executive, Richard Masters, said: “It is important that clubs are provided with the support they need to prepare for football’s return.  Along with the other funding partners, we were pleased to see thousands of clubs at different levels quickly benefit from the Pitch Preparation Fund.

“This further contribution is being made available to support more vital work and ensure premises are safe, in line with the latest Government guidelines.”

Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are committed to getting all levels of football playing as soon as the Government decides that it is safe to do so.

“This fund will be critical to helping clubs prepare facilities and carry out essential maintenance work.  We want them to be ready to welcome players back, which hopefully will be very soon.”

Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “We know grassroots football clubs can’t wait to get back to the competitive game and we’re working hard to make sure they can do so safely as soon as public health guidance allows.

“This extra funding will help clubs to prepare and make sure they can put all-important safety measures in place to protect their players and staff for when they get back on the pitch.”

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James has been Editor of Stadia since 2018 having worked at magazines and websites around the world for the past 10 years covering everything from technology to motoring and more. He also edits Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

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