CEO Blog: Changing the Game for Sport
Football Foundation CEO, Robert Sullivan, discusses the importance of the Foundation's recent funding commitment and why quality grass pitches are essential for sport across the country.
While we’re rooted in football, the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation’s ultimate goal is to transform lives and strengthen communities by providing great places to play across the country.
That’s why we were delighted to announce this week that by 2025, we plan to commit 40% of our investment into projects that support both football and at least one other sport, such as Rugby Union, Rugby League, cricket, netball, basketball and more. This doesn’t mean that money is being taken away from football, more so that investment over the next three years will provide more access to places to play all the nation’s favourite sports.
It's fitting that we announced this commitment at one of our existing flagship multi-sport sites, Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub, alongside stars from across Rugby League, Rugby Union and cricket. England’s Head Coaches for Men’s Football, Men’s Rugby Union and Men and Women’s Rugby League – Gareth Southgate, Eddie Jones, Shaun Wane and Craig Richards – as well as Captain of the England Women’s Cricket Team, Heather Knight OBE, all came together at this state-of-the-art facility to showcase how a multi-sport partnership can encourage more people to play sport and get active.
As part of our multi-sport strategy, we’ll also be making £15 million of Sport England National Lottery Funding available to support the improvement of grass pitches at rugby union, rugby league and cricket grounds across the country over the next three years. Better grass pitches will mean fewer matches will be postponed and create more opportunities to play grassroots sport, which will benefit not only physical and mental wellbeing, but also the places we live and the local economy.
We know that grass pitches are essential to grassroots sport and yet the state of grass pitches is consistently highlighted by local clubs and organisations as the biggest issue they face. In the last full season alone, over 150,000 football matches were called off due to pitches being unplayable and we’ve seen further challenges for groundskeepers thanks to the hot weather and drought conditions this summer.
That’s why we’ve come together in partnership with the Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League and English Cricket Board to open up access to PitchPower for their respective sports. Our PitchPower web app has already been a game-changer in our mission to transform the country’s grass football pitches. Now it will be able to deliver the same great benefits for these sports too. Community rugby and cricket clubs and organisations will be able to carry out grass pitch inspections and, from next Spring 2023, apply for the £15 million pot of funding to support making the improvements identified through the app.
Football Foundation Supporter and Wembley Stadium Grounds Manager, Karl Standley was on hand at our launch event to demonstrate just how easy it is to complete and submit these inspections. We look forward to seeing local groundskeepers across the country doing the same to continue the grass pitch revolution for all four eligible sports.
Find out more on the link below.