Grassroots football in England has been boosted by news of a £102m of investment into local football facilities over the next three years.
The newly-named Premier League & FA Facilities Fund sees investment from these two regular funding partners along with the Government, via Sport England, towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.
The fund, which begins in January 2014, will be delivered by the Football Foundation, who have overseen almost £1 billion of investment in grassroots football in England since it was formed in 2000.
This £102m of new investment will enable the Foundation to continue to help to increase participation in football, by encouraging more people to play the game on high-quality surfaces, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country.
Helen Grant MP, newly-appointed Minister for Sport and Equalities, said: “This partnership shows what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together to help strengthen our national game at the grassroots.
“The investment will encourage many people to get into sport in some of the most deprived areas of the country. Sport has a unique power to change lives for the better and this will make a positive impact in many local communities.”
Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities to benefit from the new fund will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, through the outreach work of the clubs’ community trusts.
“Premier League clubs are committed to playing an active role as hubs of their communities, particularly in the area of sports participation, from the grassroots level through to their Academies, said the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.
“The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund will help them to support a new generation of facilities across the country, particularly in the most deprived areas.”
Whilst still by far the most significant investment in grassroots football in the UK, funding from the Foundation’s three key funding partners has dropped by 43% since the Foundation was launched.
The Premier League, FA and Government all invested £20m per year when the Foundation when it was launched back in 2000, a total of £180m over three years. These sums have since been slashed to 12m per year from the Premier League and the FA, whilst the Goverment now provides just £10m of Sport England funding per year.
Despite the decline in investment, the Football Foundation continues to receive praise from across the game for their invaluable work, which has seen them issue 9,600 grants totalling £412m. They have used this to attract an additional £565m of match funding, taking their total investment in the grassroots game to almost £1 billion.
“I am delighted that the Premier League, the FA and the Government have agreed to continue with their generous investment into the grassroots of the game through this new fund and grateful for their continued confidence in the Foundation to deliver it,” said Football Foundation chief executive Paul Thorogood.
“This £102m is excellent news for local communities and will enable the Foundation to continue our mission to transform the inventory of grassroots football facilities across the country.
“The Football Foundation has pioneered numerous sophisticated performance management and analysis systems since our launch in 2000, so I can absolutely guarantee that this investment will be directed to where it is needed most and where it will have the greatest impact.”
New grassroots facilities funding – have your say!
What do you think of the new funding available to the grassroots game? Has your club benefited from Football Foundation funding in the past? Is your club in desperate need of funding to survive? Should the game’s major stakeholders be doing more to support the national game?
Let us have your thoughts via the comments section below.