Football pitches across Essex are set to be enhanced thanks to £349,350 worth of investment from a new Pitch Preparation Fund scheme set up by the Premier League, The FA and the Government’s Football Foundation.
The 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 who 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.
News of the support was greeted with a hugely positive response in the two-and-a-half weeks the application window was open during May. As a result, £349,350 has been awarded to 123 Essex clubs and organisations. This will allow 508 football pitches to be made match-fit, benefiting 1,734 local teams. This is how Essex will benefit from the Pitch Preparation Fund in numbers:
* a total of 123 grants awarded
* £349,350 of investment
* 508 football pitches improved
* 1,734 football teams benefiting
* 91 grassroots clubs awarded grants
* 32 clubs in the National League System awarded grants
The Football Foundation is a charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England. As a result of the exposure of the Pitch Preparation Fund, the Football Foundation also received an increase of 176% in their regular facility grant applications during May, compared with April.
This means many more football sites will be improved over and above those receiving Pitch Preparation Fund grants. Robert Sullivan, Football Foundation Interim Chief Executive, said: “This new investment into Essex will provide crucial support for football in the area. Our national game is a proven driver of mental and physical health benefits.”
“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 123 grants we’re announcing will help ensure 508 pitches across Essex are in a good condition when the time comes.”
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.
Nick Emery, Essex County FA Development Manager, welcomed the new funding coming into Essex football: “It’s great news that a number of organisations have been able to access some funding to help prepare their pitches for the new season.”
“As part of The FA’s National Game Strategy and our 'Moving Forward' Strategy, improvement to grass pitches is a key focus through the FA Pitch Improvement Programme, details of which can be found on our website.”
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 Essex can sign-up by clicking here.