Football clubs across North Devon are set to benefit from funding which will help them improve their playing surfaces for when competitive fixtures return.
Local clubs from all levels of the football pyramid, from the North Devon Football League to the Southern League, have been given support from the Pitch Preparation Fund – a £7million scheme from the Premier League, the FA and the Government’s Football Foundation.
The fund was set up in support of the game, which is facing unprecedented challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s welcome news for clubs in North Devon, which before the cancellation of the 2019/20 season in March, were facing fixture backlogs brought on by adverse weather conditions and waterlogged pitches.
The grants awarded will help with essential maintenance works toward grass pitches, including vertical decompaction, slitting, over seeding, fertilising and weed-killing, 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.
Across Devon, a total of 102 grassroots and National League System clubs have benefitted from the fund – 20 of which play their football in North Devon.
The £206,000 in funding handed out will cover 235 pitches in total, and 942 teams.
Robert Sullivan, interim chief executive officer of the Football Foundation, said: “We’ve been delighted by the response to the Pitch Preparation Fund when it launched just a few weeks ago.
“Our national game can’t take place without playing surfaces being in good condition so this £7 million of investment provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government is an important helping hand for clubs across the country to get their pitches match-fit for when matches are allowed to start up again.”
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s chief executive officer, said: “The positive response to this initiative across the football community has been very encouraging and we remain committed to supporting clubs through this uncertain period.
“This fund will help clubs to carry out vital work and prepare pitches for when it’s safe for the game to resume.”
The clubs awarded funding in North Devon are Appledore; Barnstaple Town; Boca Seniors; Braunton; Bridgerule; Dolton Rangers; Fremington; Hartland Clovelly; Holsworthy; Ilfracombe Town; Kingsley Wizards; Landkey Town; North Molton; Putford; Shebbear United; South Molton; Torridgeside; Torrington; Witheridge and Woolsery.