Rt Hon Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and MP for Leigh, joined Football Foundation President, Lord Pendry, to officially open Astley & Tyldesley Junior Football Club’s real grass pitches at their Gin Pit Village playing field home over the weekend (Saturday 13 June).

This project was made possible thanks to a £90,870 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and provides grants towards developing new or refurbished grassroots football facilities.

The grant has enabled Astley & Tyldesley JFC, only formed in 2004, to carry out extensive improvement works to the grass pitches at Gin Pit Village Playing Fields. The works included the installation of a new drainage system, levelling of the playing surfaces and re-seeding. Previously, matches and training sessions were often cancelled during the winter months as the pitches at the site were often heavily waterlogged. The improved facilities have helped Astley & Tyldesley JFC to secure FA Charter Standard Community Club status.

Since 2004 the club have grown from two to 25 teams making the club one of the largest in the region. This achievement was helped in part by a Grow the Game grant awarded by the Football Foundation in 2014 worth £3,000, which helped to create a number of new teams at the club.

The club worked in partnership with the Lancashire County FA to secure a £90,870 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. The club also received £75,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.  

The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is funded by the Premier League, The FA, and the Government, via Sport England. It is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity. The Football Foundation is currently celebrating its 15-year Anniversary. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £530m towards improving grassroots sport. It has used this investment to attract additional partnership funding of over £736m – delivering over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 259 grants worth £10.5m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £27.2m across the whole of Lancashire.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

Speaking at the event, Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP said: “I am delighted to see this investment from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund into my constituency. This funding will massively improve Astley & Tyldesley’s playing surfaces and help avoid waterlogging and fixture cancellations.

“As a member of the parliamentary football team and as an avid football fan myself, I understand how important it is for local people to have places like this to enjoy the game and benefit from being healthier as result.

“The Football Foundation therefore plays an incredibly important role in improving the country’s grassroots football facilities. Since it was conceived by the cross-party Football task force 15 years ago, the Foundation has delivered 900 changing pavilions, 526 all-weather pitches and more than 3,200 real grass pitches, such as these enjoyed by Astley & Tyldesley JFC. Long may its vital work continue.”

Lord Pendry, President of the Football Foundation, commented: “Unveiling these new football pitches at Astley & Tyldesley Junior Football Club was an absolute pleasure. This facility will have a hugely positive effect on grassroots sport and the local community.

“I have seen first-hand just how much effort is put in by volunteers at the club all year round and I look forward to seeing the club go from strength to strength as a result of the funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.”

Mike Morrow, Procurement & Funding Officer for Astley & Tyldesley JFC, said: “The support from all stakeholders has been overwhelming, especially the Football Foundation through their administration of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. I would like to personally thank everyone who has supported and been involved with the project.”