£39m granted to level up access to physical activity

Six grassroots football facilities across the West Midlands will benefit from a share of £39m of UK government funding, as part of a commitment to levelling up access to physical activity.

There are 116 projects named across the UK to improve facilities in deprived areas, support multi-sport use and increase participation among under-represented groups including women, girls and disabled players.

The funding has also had contributions from The FA, Premier League, clubs and other local partners. It will help build or upgrade up to 8,000 pitches across the UK over the next four years and support the construction or refurbishment of clubhouses, changing facilities and community buildings.

The UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston said: “We are committed to improving access to high-quality sports facilities for the underprivileged and underrepresented across England.

“From artificial grass pitches in Sefton, Newcastle and Southampton, to great changing facilities in Blackpool and Solihull, and grass pitch improvements in Chelmsford, Harrogate and Ipswich, this investment will ensure more people can enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of these facilities in their local communities.”

The six projects chosen are;

  • Milton Unite FC 2015 Limited in Stoke-on-Trent will receive £62,114. The funding will be used to refurbish their small-sided floodlit 3G football turf pitch at The Hardman Football Development Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. This will ensure that the existing 3G pitch is refurbished to provide a high quality and safe surface for Milton United FC’s 42 teams and other associated community users of the site. The total project valuation is £78,346.
  • South Staffordshire District Council will receive £455,647. This project will be developed by the council and the Invictus Education Trust for the construction of a new floodlit 3G Football Turf Pitch at Wombourne Leisure Centre / Wombourne High School. The development is on a dual-use site with curriculum and enrichment use in the day, with community usage in the evenings and at weekends. The council will also refurbish two changing rooms to provide suitable accommodation. The total project valuation is £755,647.
  • Solihull Moors Foundation will receive £25,000 to help enhance and improve the existing changing room provisions for the Solihull Moors Foundation. The total project valuation is £35,676.
  • Woodbourne Sports Club will also receive £25,000 for its football club to improve the changing rooms at its facility in Birmingham. The total project valuation is £41,217.
  • Woodrush High School will receive £145,828 to refurbish its indoor sports hall. The facility supports a variety of indoor sports including small-sided football, basketball, netball, hockey and badminton. A key priority for usage is Futsal and there is a gap in provision in this area which Birmingham County FA are targeting. The total project valuation is £285,700.
  • Maypole FC CIC will receive a £25,000 grant to provide fencing at its site in Birmingham to ensure site security. The total project valuation is £50,786.

Mark Bullingham, Chief Executive of the FA, said: “This initial £39 million investment from the Government, the first tranche of the £230 million that was recently allocated to transform grassroots football facilities across the country, will help people to get active again as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Having more quality facilities around the country will encourage new participation at every age group and from historically underrepresented groups, level up health inequalities in left-behind communities, and make the playing experience enjoyable for everyone that plays the game.”

Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation said: “This government funding for community sports facilities across England will be life-changing for people who will use them.

“We know that playing on good quality facilities helps people get fitter, improves mental wellbeing, grows confidence and builds stronger relationships. This is all essential for individuals and communities as we emerge out of the Covid-19 crisis.

Today’s announcement follows a joint ‘Expression of Interest’ submitted to UEFA by the Football Associations of England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales on Wednesday (23 March) to host the UEFA EURO 2028.

The Governments of the UK, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have confirmed their support for the EOI submission and, given the Northern Ireland Executive is currently not meeting formally, officials there continue to observe the process closely.

Formal discussions on the technical specifications for the tournament are expected to take place with European football’s governing body over the coming weeks, before a final decision is made on submitting a formal bid.

On the prospects of hosting UEFA EURO 2028, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: “This is welcome news from The FAs, and the Government remains committed to working closely with them and our partners in the Government of Ireland and the Devolved Administrations to bring UEFA’s flagship festival of international football to the UK and Ireland.

“Our unprecedented partnership creates the potential for the best EUROs ever, and we are passionate about bringing another world-leading sporting event here, creating a real celebration of football for people across the UK and Ireland.”