light for biggest ever investment in grassroots football
WORK is to get underway this summer on
the biggest ever investment in grassroots football in Liverpool worth almost ₤17
million as part of The FA's Parklife Programme.
A report approved at the Council's Cabinet accepted an external funding package
worth ₤12.9 million for the Liverpool Parklife Project, supplemented by a ₤4.4
million investment from the City Council, and will see four all-weather sports
hubs created in Liverpool.
The external funding is coming from the Football Foundation (₤11.9 million on
behalf of The FA, DCMS and The Premier League), Sport England (₤0.8million) and
the RFU (Rugby Football Union) - ₤272k.
It will initially see 4 all weather sports hubs created in Liverpool in the
► Jeffrey Humble Playing Field (Fazakerley)
► Heron Eccles Playing Field (Allerton)
► Jericho Lane Playing Field (Otterspool)
► Simpson Road (Woolton)
Each will have three floodlit artificial grass pitches together with grass
pitches, changing facilities and extensive car parking. There will also be
health and fitness facilities at Jeffrey Humble and Jericho Lane.
The investment follows discussions in 2015 between Mayor Joe Anderson and the FA
about a brand new approach to the sport designed to meet the changing needs of
participants, drive up the standard of facilities and reduce reliance on
subsidies from the City Council by ensuring income generated from the sites is
reinvested back into the game locally.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:- "This is a huge investment in
grassroots football and will be pivotal in improving the facilities in
Liverpool. Far too often during the winter, matches have to be called off
because the grass is waterlogged or frozen, causing disappointment for thousands
Unlike many other Councils, we have chosen to keep the use of pitches free. But
we have far less money than we used to and we can't invest as much as we would
like to improve the pitches and associated facilities. That is why we have
worked together with our partners to come up with an innovative new approach
that will deliver major investment in great new facilities and get more people
involved in the game."
Football is the City's major participation sport with over 1,200 teams; of
which more than 60% are junior/youth teams; and it is estimated that half a
million people participate in the game every year.
Under the initiative, a varied development programme with be introduced to
ensure the new facilities are accessible to all sections of the community
through the week and matches and other activities at the weekend as part of the
drive to ensure both football development and social outcomes are delivered.
Martin Glenn, FA CEO, said:- "After the success of our inaugural site in
Sheffield last year, this is another positive step in helping football
communities across the country. Liverpool is a real hotbed for the game at youth
level. Crucially, this development means poor pitches, inadequate changing
facilities and a battle against the elements to get fixtures completed each
winter will be a thing of the past for everyone who uses it which underlines our
commitment to providing football for all."
David Woods, Chair of the Liverpool Grassroots Steering Group, said:- "The
addition of new state of the art 3G pitches, pavilions and car parking will
provide new facilities for everyone, allowing people to access football all year
round across the City. Once construction has concluded, these four hub sites
will provide high quality facilities for grassroots clubs and leagues, who will
be able to play football in a safe environment. Not only will these facilities
be available for clubs during the week for training; at weekends they will allow
for mini-soccer to be played in the morning, with youth and adult football able
to be played in the afternoon."
Dave Pugh, Chief Executive of the Liverpool County FA, said:- "We have
been working hard with the Liverpool Grassroots Steering Group, Liverpool City
Council and The FA to develop this project, which will not only see a huge
investment in the City for grassroots football, but will also provide
opportunities to support grassroots football leagues, both junior and adult, by
providing high quality facilities for them to access for match days, and clubs
for training during the week. The new facilities will also improve the access
and quality of our coach education programmes, improve skill development of
young players, allow more people to access football opportunities and ultimately
change the way we support and deliver football in the City for the better."
An external operator will be sought to run the pitches, which will remain in
Council ownership. The Council's contribution will be funded using borrowing and
initially repaid via a licence fee received from the operator. Once this
borrowing has been serviced, all income received by the Council will be donated
to the Council's charitable delivery agent.
3 of the sites are currently subject to the lease arrangements with Merseyside
Youth Association (MYA) and as part of the new arrangements the leases at Heron
Eccles and Simpson Ground will not be renewed. A new lease will be granted to
the MYA for the Jeffrey Humble site which will be leased back to the Council
with the MYA receiving ₤15k a year rental income. All MYA staff will transfer to
the new operator.
Planning permission has already been secured for the sites and work is expected
to get underway this June with the new sites opening in April 2018.