Football pitches across Staffordshire are set to be enhanced thanks to £103,550 worth of investment from a new scheme set up by the Premier League, The FA and the 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 outbreak. It is providing grants to clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams during this difficult period, helping them to get their pitches ready for when it is safe to play football again, following Government advice.
The fund was greeted with a hugely positive response in the two-and-a-half weeks the application window was open during May.
As a result, £103,550 has been awarded to 51 clubs and organisations in Staffordshire. This will allow 139 football pitches to be made match-fit, benefiting 505 local football teams.
How Staffordshire will benefit from the Pitch Preparation Fund in numbers:
• A total of 51 grants awarded
• £103,550 of investment
• 139 football pitches improved
• 505 football teams benefiting
• 33 grassroots clubs awarded grants
• 18 clubs in the National League System awarded grants
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, compared with April. So many more football sites will be improved over and above those receiving Pitch Preparation Fund grants.
Kevin Staples, Head of Strategy & Investment of the Staffordshire FA, said: “When the announcement was made that clubs would be able to apply to the Pitch Preparation Fund to help with the costs of their pitch maintenance, we wanted to ensure that all eligible clubs in Staffordshire could benefit. At a time of great uncertainty, we are continually looking to support our clubs with funding opportunities. The Pitch Preparation Fund is a great opportunity to reduce the financial burden clubs are currently facing at the same time as ensuring Staffordshire’s pitches can be as well prepared for the new football season whenever it may start.”
Robert Sullivan, Interim Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This new investment into Staffordshire will provide crucial support for football in the area. Our national game is a proven driver of mental and physical health benefits, so it’s important local pitches are match-fit in the event that the Government announces it’s safe for the game to start again.
“That is why we’ve worked with the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England to set up the Pitch Preparation Fund. These grants we’re announcing today will help ensure 139 pitches across Staffordshire are in a good condition when the time comes.”
The grants awarded will help with essential maintenance works toward grass pitches, including vertical decompaction, slitting, over seeding, fertilising and weedkilling, 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.
Clubs and other organisations 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. Anyone in Staffordshire can sign up at https://thefa.hivelearning.com/groundskeeping
The Football Foundation is a charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England.