The Rt Hon. Nick Brown, MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne East, reopened Newcastle East End FC’s all-weather pitch recently (Friday 16 February), following work carried out to repair damage caused by Storm Desmond in late 2015.
Many grassroots football clubs saw their pitches, changing rooms and stands damaged by strong winds and heavy rain fall, causing matches and training sessions to be postponed as a result.
Newcastle East End FC was given assistance thanks to a £49,900 grant from the Emergency Football Relief Fund – a scheme that awarded grants to football facilities damaged as a result of the storm, with money provided by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. This scheme is delivered by the Football Foundation.
In the case of Newcastle East End FC, the storm caused severe damage to the club’s small-sided third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The pitch was severely flooded and taken out of use due to safety concerns.
This affected the club’s youth teams, including four disability sides. Their training previously took place on the 3G AGP, which meant that they had to source alternative venues at cost to the club.
Now, thanks to the funding, the pitch has been restored and improved. Works have included replacing the existing, damaged pitch with a brand new surface, helping to provide a central resource for Newcastle East End FC and its 42 teams.
The Rt Hon. Nick Brown, MP for Newcastle-upon-Tyne East, said: “It is wonderful to see Newcastle East End FC’s pitch back in use again, following the severe storm damage. I’d like to thank the club for giving me the honour of officially unveiling it. Grassroots sport is such a vital part of our community, and I know that the club, particularly its youth members, has been suffering with the loss of this pitch.
“I’d like to thank the Premier League, The FA and the Government for their investment in grassroots football, following Storm Desmond. Delivered by the Football Foundation, their funding has helped clubs just like Newcastle East End FC to get facilities back up and running across the country.”
Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, said: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see that the facilities damaged by floods in Newcastle have been rejuvenated by the Football Foundation's Emergency Football Relief Fund.
“Grassroots facilities are vital to boosting local communities and it shows what the Premier League, The FA and the Government can achieve when working in partnership to help improve them.”
Kelly Scott, Newcastle East End FC Chairman, said: “We are very much a community club and currently operate 42 teams, with more than 500 members aged from five through to adults. The club is much-loved in the area and a vital resource for local people. As well as being a social hub for generations of many local families, our facilities help improve the health and well-being of local people.
“When the floods devastated our facilities, many matches and training had to be cancelled and we didn’t know if we would ever be fully operational again. However, thanks to the significant funding boost provided by the Emergency Football Relief Fund, we now have these fantastic facilities, which are even better than before.”
Up to £750,000 was made available by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England to rebuild and repair grassroots football pitches and facilities that suffered storm damage and flooding from Storm Desmond, to enable football to continue across the affected regions as quickly as possible. This Emergency Fund was available for grassroots football clubs across all levels of The FA National League System (Step 1 to Step 7) that required assistance to make facilities safe and fit for purpose again.