Football’s return has been given a financial boost through the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.
Following £7m of investment through the Pitch Preparation Fund, which is helping clubs improve playing surfaces, the Foundation has announced it is awarding 3,383 grants worth £1,691,500 to organisations across the country through the Club Preparation Fund. This was open to applications in the first half of July.
The Club Preparation Fund will help clubs prepare their buildings to safely reopen in line with Government guidance around hygiene and social distancing, and The FA’s plans for a ‘phased return’ that were announced on 18 July.
The Club Preparation Fund’s impact in numbers:
- A total of 3,383 grants awarded
- £1,691,500 of investment
- A total of 40,131 football teams benefiting
- 32,921 grassroots teams benefiting
- 6,742 teams in The FA National League System will benefit
- 197 teams in The FA Women’s Football Pyramid will benefit
- 10 grants awarded to clubs in the Welsh Cymru Premier League.
These grants will help football sites to satisfy the extra hygiene measures that Government guidance requires. This includes:
- Installing hygiene facilities, such as hand sanitiser dispensers, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers and waste bins
- Modifications, such as safety screening, contactless payment systems and signage
- Facility maintenance work, such as repairing hand basins and hot water provision
- Professional inspections that may be necessary due to the prolonged period of closure resulting from the pandemic – including inspections of water quality, gas and ventilation.
The Pitch Preparation Fund awarded £7m to 2,902 organisations. This is enabling over 9,000 football pitches to be made match-fit and is benefiting more than 33,000 football teams.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Football is at the heart of communities across the country and we’re determined to help local clubs bounce back stronger than ever.
“I’m delighted to see grassroots football return and I know this investment will do so much to help teams stay safe as they get back on the pitch.”
The FA also released bespoke guidance for outdoor facility providers to help achieve the Government’s guidelines. Providers will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, then adapt their facilities via three key ‘controls’: promoting good hygiene; keeping facilities and equipment clean; and maintaining social distancing and avoiding congestion.
Clubs and other organisations can access to the Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community for free. This is an online resource of advice and guidance for looking after natural grass pitches. Anyone can sign up at https://thefa.hivelearning.com/groundskeeping.