Date published: 13/07/2015
Phil Neal, former Liverpool FC, Northampton Town FC and England defender, returned to Northamptonshire yesterday (Sunday 12 July) to officially open Irchester Sports Association’s new changing room pavilion and clubhouse refurbishments. The project was made possible thanks to £99,998 from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) and £99,990 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.
Phil Neal, who was born in Irchester, won eight First Division titles and four European Cups with Liverpool FC and passed on expert advice to aspiring young footballers at the opening ceremony, where he was joined by David Kitchen, Director, Northamptonshire FA.
Grants from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF have enabled Irchester Sports Association to build a new changing room pavilion comprising four dual-gender changing rooms, two officials’ rooms and plant storage. Additionally, the kitchen and spectator toilet facilities in the main clubhouse have also been refurbished. The previous changing facilities at the site were in a poor state of repair and had restricted the club’s growth.
The Football Foundation worked with the Irchester Sports Association and Northamptonshire FA to produce a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP), which is a vision for how football will be delivered at the site with the emphasis placed on increasing and maximising participation. Strong partnerships are already in place with local FA Charter Standard Clubs Irchester United FC, Irchester Sports FC and Irchester Romans Youth FC who currently operate 16 teams between them at the site. The FDP will a minimum of four additional teams created over the next five years.
The club worked in partnership with the Northamptonshire FA to secure the two separate grants from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF.
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. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 13,000 grants worth more than £530m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £740m – over £1.3bn of investment into the grassroots game.
Since 2000 the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 101 grants worth £6m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £11.1m across the whole of Northamptonshire.
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.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
Phil Neal, commented: “It was a privilege to be back in Irchester today and help officially open these wonderful new changing facilities. I’ve seen how hard club members have worked to bring this project to fruition and provide a sustainable future for the club and grassroots sport in the local area.
“It is also great to see the Premier League, The FA and Government providing investment into grassroots football through the Football Foundation. If we are to produce better players for our national teams then it is essential that we continue to invest in high-quality facilities. I’d like to again congratulate members of Irchester Sports Association and I look forward to seeing the club go from strength to strength over the coming years.”
John Maguire, Chairman, Irchester Sports Association, said: “We have received tremendous support from staff at the Northamptonshire FA, Football Foundation and FSIF throughout the duration of this project. The new facilities will be massively important to sport in the local area and I’d like to thank Phil Neal, Irchester-born and one of the most-decorated English footballers of all time, for officially opening our new facilities.
“The Irchester Sports Association would also like to thank the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund and FSIF for providing investment, which will encourage further growth of grassroots football and hopefully our small village can have another player that goes on to gain 50 England caps!”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Irchester Sports Association to upgrade their changing facilities. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area. A special thanks must go to Phil Neal for opening the new facilities.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Irchester is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, added: “I am very pleased that Irchester Sports Association’s new and refurbished changing facilities have now been officially opened by Phil Neal. Investment from the Premier League, through the FSIF, has made a huge difference to Irchester United FC and Irchester Romans YFC and demonstrates our commitment to supporting football at all levels. I would like to congratulate all club members for their hard work in getting to this stage and wish all teams at the club the best of luck for the coming season.”
For more information contact:
- John Maguire on 07914 381 770 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bradley Cleveland on 0845 345 4555 Ext: 4282 or email@example.com