CEO Blog: Much done... much still to do


As we celebrate 21 years of the Football Foundation, CEO Robert Sullivan reflects on the Foundation's achievements during this time and looks ahead to an exciting future.

This year, the Football Foundation celebrates 21 years of transforming lives through the power of the pitch. It’s a significant milestone and a good opportunity to reflect on what’s been achieved over that time.  

Since its creation by the Premier League, The FA and the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Foundation and its partners locally have unlocked £1.8 billion of investment to improve local sports facilities across England. 

We’ve awarded over 20,400 grants, helped to build 958 artificial grass pitches, improved 8,726 natural grass pitches, and enhanced 1,223 changing facilities - all of which are accessible and welcoming to everyone.

That’s a significant body of work, but there’s still lots more to do in creating the facilities our communities need and deserve. So, we’re now looking ahead. 

Gareth Southgate at a Football Foundation facility opening
Gareth Southgate at a Football Foundation facility opening

Plans for the Future

We have a plan for every Local Authority area in England. Based on a needs-based analysis our Local Football Facility Plans have set out a clear target list of what we need to get done – every artificial pitch, improved grass pitch, small sided court, new clubhouse that’s needed - to transform lives and communities with a great place to play over the next ten years. 

These plans are just the start. They allow us to work closely with our partners at the Premier League, The FA and the Government, as well as collaborating closely with local councils, MPs and local groups, to improve facilities for everyone. Our communities need this team spirit now more than ever and we hope the latest wave of international sporting excitement will help release even more local enthusiasm for our work.

Drone photo of artificial grass pitch at night with floodlights on
Drone photo of artificial grass pitch at night with floodlights on

Exciting Times Ahead

The incredible journey of the England men’s team to the Euro 2020 final and the success of our Team GB competitors has shown us all how sport can bring communities closer together. A great place to meet, train and compete will have been a vital part of everyone single one of their development journeys.  Following what has been a difficult time for everyone, their achievements gives us all hope, and in particular for those younger than me, inspiration for what may be achieved. 

So, we have a plan for what needs to get done; and we have the enthusiasm of a nation, inspired by sporting excellence and the positive opportunities that come from a great place to play. We also have the funding - the ongoing support of the Premier League and The FA – and also the Government with the recent welcome announcement of an additional £50m next year as the Prime Minster delivers on their £550m ten-year manifesto commitment. The opportunity is all ahead of us.

After 21 years, and so much achieved, there’s still so much more to do. I’m now looking forward with real excitement – inspired by the difference I know we can make, together.