Football pitches across the Northumberland FA region are set to be enhanced thanks to £110,050 worth of investment from a new scheme set up by 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 outbreak. 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 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, £110,050 has been awarded to 45 clubs and organisations. This will allow 148 football pitches to be made match-fit, benefiting 485 local football teams.
How Northumberland and Newcastle will benefit from the Pitch Preparation Fund in numbers:
- A total of 45 grants awarded
- £110,050 of investment
- 148 football pitches improved
- 485 football teams benefiting
- 34 grassroots clubs awarded grants
- 11 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.
Robert Sullivan, Interim Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This new investment into Northumberland and Newcastle 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 45 grants we’re announcing today will help ensure 148 pitches across Northumberland FA’s region are in a good condition when the time comes.”
Andrew Rose-Cook, Northumberland FA’s Acting Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted that so many of our clubs will benefit from this Football Foundation funding. We know from our own research that’s Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our local clubs and teams, and this money will go a long way to helping them get ready to welcoming their players back to football.”
Whitley Bay Juniors is one of the clubs that will benefit. Yvonne Baxter, club secretary, said they’ll use the funds to pay for maintenance on their well-used 3G pitch.
“This welcome funding by the Football Foundation will assist us with these costs to ensure we are in a position at WBFC Juniors to be on the front foot when grassroots junior football returns.”
Meanwhile, Morpeth Town Juniors will use their handout to bring a disused pitch back into use. Club chairman Paul Barwick explained: “We’ve not been able to use this pitch for the last two seasons due to an access dispute. Consequently, whilst we have managed occasional maintenance, the pitch has suffered badly and has in the past returned to meadow. It’s in poor condition and in need of some intensive work to restore it, so the award of the grant was very timely.”
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 Northumberland FA can sign up at https://thefa.hivelearning.com/groundskeeping.