Football pitches across Jersey are set to be enhanced thanks to £26,000 worth of investment from a new scheme set up by the Premier League, The FA and the Football Foundation.
The Pitch Preparation Fund was set up in support of the game, which is currently facing unprecedented challenges because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is providing grants to clubs that have lost out on normal revenue streams during this difficult period and helping them to get their pitches ready for when it is safe to play football again, following Government advice.
The Fund was greeted with a hugely positive response in the two-and-a-half weeks the application window was open during May.
As a result, £26,000 has been awarded to 12 of the island's clubs and organisations. This will allow 26 football pitches, including training areas, to be made match-fit, benefiting well over 100 local football teams of all ages.
How Jersey will benefit from the Pitch Preparation Fund in numbers:
- A total of 12 grants awarded
- £26,000 of investment
- 26 football pitches, including training areas, improved
- 130 football teams benefiting
We are naturally extremely grateful to the Football Foundation for their continued support
- Peter Gully, St Clement Sports Club
As a result of the exposure of the Pitch Preparation Fund, the Football Foundation also received an increase of 176% in its regular facility grant applications during May, compared with April. So many more football sites will be improved over and above those receiving Pitch Preparation Fund grants.
Among the Jersey clubs to successfully apply for funding were St Clement, who suffered severe flooding of their pitch during the 2019-20 season. St Clement Sports Club Vice President Peter Gully said: "As a result of the bad weather at the beginning of 2020 and then the lockdown, we had not been able to mow our football pitches. We had to call in outside contractors to cut the grass to a level whereby our tractor could cope again. The grass had grown extremely high by usual standards and a lot of time and machinery were involved in returning the grass to the level where we could maintain the cutting.
"On behalf of the club, I applied to the Football Foundation for a grant in the sum of £2,500, being £1,500 for our main pitch and £1,000 for our smaller 'mini' pitch and awaited their decision. This duly arrived on Thursday, informing us that we had been successful. This means that we will now recoup the money paid to the outside contractors and the balance can be used to cover the cost of fuel and servicing of the tractor for the coming season, or perhaps vertidraining our pitches.
"We are naturally extremely grateful to the Football Foundation for their continued support as we do not have any income coming into the club at this point in time, but do have ongoing bills to be paid."
The grants awarded to clubs across the country and islands will help with essential maintenance works toward grass pitches, including vertical decompaction, slitting, over seeding, fertilising and weedkilling, as well as routine preparatory works such as grass cutting and the setting out and line marking of pitches. For artificial surfaces, eligible works include deep cleaning, overmarking and FA pitch testing.
Clubs and other organisations are also being given access to the Football Foundation Groundskeeping Community. This is a free online resource the Foundation developed with The FA and the Grounds Management Association, containing advice and guidance. Anyone in Jersey can sign up at https://thefa.hivelearning.com/groundskeeping.
The Football Foundation is a charity funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England.