Over £16million funding for return of grassroots football
- Credit: Lee Power
Funds in excess of £16million are being made available in preparation for the return of grassroots football at the end of this month.
The joint initiative is being carried out by the Premier League, the Football Association and the Government's Football Foundation ahead of the latest stage of the easing of the national lockdown on March 29.
Just over £2m is being targeted at groups whose participation has been affected most by the coronavirus pandemic, supporting clubs in the highest areas of deprivation in England, disability football and under-represented groups, including women and girls.
A £14m bursary is set to provide six-year tapered grants to improve the quality of grass pitches while small grants will be issued to help clubs pay for essential equipment and machinery they need to start playing again.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "There is huge excitement across the country ahead of the return of grassroots football at the end of the month.
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"The game provides so many benefits for people of all ages and brings communities together which is now more vital than ever.
"The launch of these three funds will provide targeted support for clubs across the country with a range of grants designed to ensure a safe return of the grassroots game."
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As part of the small grants, clubs can apply for up to £25,000 to refurbish their changing rooms, pay for grass pitch drainage, new goalposts, pitch maintenance equipment and portable floodlights.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "We are so looking forward to the safe return of grassroots football from 29th March and will do all we can to support clubs up and down the country to get back to normal after what has been an unprecedented year of challenges.
"Grassroots football has a hugely positive impact by bringing communities together and improving the health of the nation. These new funds will provide crucial financial support to clubs and leagues, helping them to get the game we love up and running again."