MORE than £250,000 investment into grassroots football in Suffolk has been secured since the COVID-19 lockdown started.
Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler hailed it as a ‘fantastic achievement’ after the investment via the Football Foundation broke through the quarter-of-a-million pound barrier.
The figure of £250,279 represents a total project investment of £366,764 in pitches, floodlighting, new stands, fencing, goalposts, storage areas and grass pitch maintenance across the county.
This figure does not include any funding that clubs have accessed from external sources such as Government initiatives or the Sport England Community Fund.
The biggest single project so far has been the £56,386 granted to Bury Town for a new stand and replacement floodlights, with Haverhill Community Sports Association receiving £47,160 towards pitch improvement works, maintenance equipment and goals. The old stand at the Denny Brothers Stadium is pictured above.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown started on March 16th six clubs have benefited from the Football Foundation’s Grass Pitch Revenue Funding, which launched in January, totalling a Football Foundation contribution of £156,420 and a total investment £234,630 into their grass pitch improvements over the next ten years.
The clubs, which include Walsham-le-Willows FC, Thurston FC, Trimley Sports & Social Club Veterans, Lakenheath Youth/Lakenheath Casuals, Bourne Vale Sports Club and Haverhill Community Sports Association, are part of the Suffolk FA Pitch Improvement Programme sponsored by Parkers Pitches.
Nine clubs have taken advantage of the funding available to grassroots clubs through the Football Foundation for small capital works including new goalposts, portable floodlighting, grass pitch maintenance equipment, storage containers, small pavilion refurbishments and fencing to the tune of £37,473.
Clubs who have benefited include Coplestonians FC, Framlingham Town Youth FC, Needham Market Youth FC, Haverhill Community Sports Association, Maritime FC, Lakenheath Casuals FC, Walsham-le-Willows FC and Coddenham Athletic FC.
Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler said: “What a fantastic achievement!
“It is brilliant to see the range of grants received across clubs in Suffolk. These grants are a vital contribution to Suffolk Football and are important to the growth and development to our clubs.
“I would like to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the club volunteers for their time and work in managing their projects and grant applications.
“Thank you also to Football Development Manager Jodie Allard and the Football Development team at Suffolk FA, for the support given to the clubs to help achieve this funding.
“I encourage all clubs considering maintenance or development projects to please contact Jodie or any member of the Development team to explore the potential funding opportunities available.
“Well done to everyone involved in this milestone achievement.”
Investment is set to further rise in the coming weeks following last week’s launch of the Football Foundation’s Pitch Preparation Fund, which has already seen more than 30 clubs in the county apply for grants of up to £5,000 each.
On top of that, Suffolk FA announced three weeks ago a potential funding package of up to £84,000 for clubs and leagues for the 2020-21 season.
That included £40,000 being made available to clubs in immediate danger and a further £30,000 being made available to clubs on a short-term, interest free loan basis.
The package also included discounts on personal accident insurance while entry fees to the Suffolk County Cup competitions was frozen at 2019-20 prices.
The £250,279 investment follows on from the announcement at the start of March that Copleston High School in Ipswich had secured a Football Foundation grant of £409,665 for a new 3G facility.
The existing all-weather surface at the school is to be replaced by a new 3G pitch costing £529,665, which will enable key partner club Coplestonians FC to bring more teams back to their home facility.
The Football Foundation is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, through Sport England.
This is matched with partnership funding and awarded as grants to create outstanding grassroots facilities that enable better games and attract more players, helping to transform communities.
The Football Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Since 2000, it has awarded more than 17,600 grants to improve facilities worth more than £708m – including 885 artificial grass pitches, 3,587 natural grass pitches and 1,210 changing facilities.
This has attracted an additional £885m of partnership funding – totalling over £1.5bn investment in grassroots football so far.
Pitch Preparation Fund is launched
Funding package of £84,000 announced
£56,386 renovations grant to Bury Town