Maria Caulfield MP has welcomed support including from the government, Premier League and private companies for local football clubs.
The Premier League has announced a new ‘Matchday Support Fund’ to assist over 1,000 football clubs in The FA National League System, FA Women’s Pyramid and Welsh Premier League to prepare for the resumption of football and the safe return of supporters to their stadiums.
The new Fund offers grants towards a range of measures that will make grounds safer for the 2020/21 season given the additional risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include: signage and additional stewarding costs; implementing new ticketing/IT systems to allow for the purchase of advance tickets; the purchase of contactless payment technology and the installation of hand sanitisation points.
Matchday support grant
Local football clubs in the Lewes constituency Lewes FC, Lewes FC Women and Seaford FC will be eligible for this fund.
In addition to this, GVC the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral have set up Pitching In, a programme of investments in grassroots sport. Pitching In will become the official partners of what is known as the Trident Leagues. This is made up of the Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues which are levels seven and eight of the English football league pyramid. The Trident Leagues, which trace their roots back to the nineteenth century, are at the heart of the national game, with 228 clubs, 15,000 players in villages, towns, and cities, bridging the gap between the professional and amateur worlds.
As well as this financial support, a key focus of the partnership will be to facilitate and encourage community volunteers to do some pitching in of their own, and contribute their time and efforts. A Pitching In volunteering scheme will be established to pair the Group’s Ladbrokes and Coral shop colleagues with their local clubs to further strengthen local community ties and provide much needed legs on the ground.
Maria Caulfield MP, who is a shareholder of Lewes FC, said “I have recently visited Lewes FC, Lewes FC Women and Seaford Football Club and held discussions with them about the challenges faced by grassroots football clubs and what support they need from the Premier League and government. I have raised these issues with the Premier League and am therefore pleased that they have listen to my representations, and those from grassroots football across the country, and will be helping grassroots clubs to survive these challenges and welcome back fans.”
“The additional support from GVC is a welcome boost to grassroots football. The gambling industry makes so much money from sport, and football in particular, so it is great to see them using some of this money to help fans get back to where they want to be.”
The Matchday Support Fund from the Premier League will cover two key areas of the match day experience:
Stadium – grants can help clubs make the physical infrastructure changes required to reopen their stadia in line with the latest guidance. This includes conducting risk assessments, and implementing measures, such as reducing capacity and creating capacity for socially distanced movement.
Supporters – grants can also be used to help ensure supporters’ safe travel to and from stadia, as well as their attendance at the game. This could include:
- the purchase of contactless payment technology
- the installation of hand sanitisation points
- implementing advanced ticketing systems
- specialist consultancy support around risk assessments or travel plans
- Fan engagement interventions – such as additional signage, stewarding or transport hubs.
The application window for this fund closes on 16 September.