Almost £2 million in grants from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation will boost grassroots football in Wirral.
Councillors on the Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee approved grant offers from the Football Foundation to provide new facilities at Bidston and Woodchurch when they met at Wallasey town hall on 26 July.
The move follows a successful two-year partnership between the Football Foundation and Wirral Council.
Chair of the Committee Cllr Helen Cameron said, “This is fantastic news and shows the power of the partnership between the council and the Football Foundation. I’d like to thank everyone involved in securing this funding for more all-weather pitches, which will provide a real boost to football players in Wirral.
“In the wake of the success of the Lionesses at the Euro 2022, I have no doubt this will also help access for women and girls playing football to be even better in the borough.”
Robert Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said, “This grant award to Wirral Council towards developing new 3G pitches and changing provision at Bidston and Woodchurch is great news for the local communities
“It will support people’s ability to play our national game locally and therefore help unlock football’s many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing. That’s why we’re committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities in this country.
“The Football Foundation is working closely with our partners – the Premier League, The FA, government and Sport England – to support facility development projects like this across the country over the next decade to transform our grassroots game and unlock the power of pitches.”
A report to the Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee had requested authorisation to accept the grant offers and to agree the Council’s contribution towards these projects through capital spending (not day-to-day council funding).
Following approval by councillors it will now see a grant of up to £806,600 for Wirral Tennis and Sports Centre from The Football Foundation towards the project total (£968,317) to provide for the development of a standard size 3G all-weather pitch and car park as well as refurbishment of the existing changing rooms.
At Woodchurch Leisure Centre the Football Foundation has approved a capital grant offer of 59% of a total project cost of £1,861,902, subject to a maximum payment of £1,090,092. This money will be for the development of a supersize 3G pitch and also see development of a pavilion containing changing rooms, showers, toilets, social area, commercial kitchen and equipment store.
The new pitch will be on the disused former athletics track behind the current Woodchurch Leisure Centre.
Operational, maintenance costs and a contribution towards the Council’s staffing costs will be met from the revenue generated by both projects. Any surplus revenue from both projects will also be reinvested back into the adjacent grass pitches to improve the condition and playability of these.
The Football Association and Football Foundation have identified Wirral as an area for special consideration, in terms of attracting grant aid towards the development of new Artificial Grass Pitches.
This is in direct response to the exponential growth in grassroots junior football over the past few years in all age groups and all abilities (both in the men and women’s game) throughout Wirral.
According to Wirral’s Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sports Strategy the Borough is approximately fourteen artificial grass pitches short of meeting demand.
About the Football Foundation
The Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK. It champions and supports fair access to quality football facilities for everyone, regardless of gender, race, disability or place.
The Foundation receives money from 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.
Since 2000, it has awarded more than 21,000 grants to improve facilities worth more than £813m – including 1,000 artificial grass pitches, 10,000 natural grass pitches and 1,300 changing facilities. This has attracted an additional £1bn of partnership funding – totalling over £1.9bn investment in grassroots football so far.
Through the Foundation, the Premier League, The FA, DCMS and Sport England have come together to create Local Football Facility Plans for every area in England. They identify priority projects where demand is greatest, and the impact will be strongest. They will guide work and stimulate the action required to deliver them over the next 10 years to transform many more local facilities.
Visit footballfoundation.org.uk for more information on the Foundation.
Image: Wirral Council