The Premier League, The FA, the government and Sport England have come together through their Football Foundation to launch a new ‘Pitch Preparation Fund’ in support of the game, which is currently facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The fund provides almost £10 million of financial support to those struggling to maintain their football pitches across the country, including those BCFA affiliated clubs based in Birmingham, Warwickshire and the Black Country. This is a direct response to a need across the game, providing grants to clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams during this difficult period, helping them to prepare their pitches after challenging winter weather conditions.
The move will help to get clubs in a position to start playing football again when it is safe to do so, following government advice, and is estimated that to benefit up to 4,000 grassroots clubs and organisations.
A total of £9.56 million has been allocated to the fund, which is open to football clubs and voluntary organisations that maintain their own natural grass pitches and have at least 12 months’ security of tenure. Clubs with suitable tenure for a 3G artificial grass pitch are also eligible to apply.
Grassroots football clubs and organisations, FA National League System Clubs from Step 1-6, Welsh Cymru Premier League clubs and clubs in The FA Women’s Pyramid (Tier 1-5) that maintain their own natural grass and third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches, are among those eligible to apply for funding.
Olly Hitchcox, Facility and Investment Lead at Birmingham County FA, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to support our clubs, ensuring that their pitches are ready for football again, as and when restrictions are lifted and various formats of the game can re-commence.
“This new fund will be well received by clubs locally, especially in light of the current pandemic and the impact that it’s having on the football community and normal income streams. Many clubs are still maintaining their pitch(es) as they would normally so we hope that this will help ease some of the financial burden our clubs are currently facing, and we thank the Football Foundation and its partners for their support.”
Robert Sullivan, Football Foundation Interim Chief Executive, said: “This fund reflects the determination of the Premier League, The FA and government to work together to make funding available to help get pitches match-ready for when restrictions are lifted.
“The Football Foundation will work with eligible clubs and community organisations across the country to ensure they get what they need. We are here to help, so please apply via footballfoundation.org.uk before the deadline of 25 May.”
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “These are unprecedented times, not only within football but for society as a whole, and our thoughts are with all those who have been directly affected by COVID-19.
“On top of our existing financial commitment to football facilities, this funding will ensure vital work can be conducted on pitches across the country to help clubs prepare for when it is safe for the game to resume.”
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “These are extraordinary and challenging times not just for football, but across society and as always, our first thoughts are with those families affected.
“We remain committed to supporting clubs during this uncertain period and that’s why The FA has joined forces with the Premier League and government to create this new initiative.”
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “We’re doing all we can to help the sport sector through this difficult time and that includes grassroots football that has such a positive impact on millions of people's lives.
“This funding from the government, the Premier League and The FA will help clubs upgrade their facilities so they are ready to go as soon as it’s safe to start playing again.”
The funding will help eligible clubs with essential maintenance works which could include 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 could include deep cleaning, overmarking and FA pitch testing.
The application window will be open between Thursday 7 May and 9pm on Monday 25 May 2020.
Please visit the Football Foundation website for further details on the fund and how to apply