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Premier League help Non-League clubs return to action

Image: David Holmes

The Premier League have launched a new fund to help clubs in the National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid and Welsh Premier League prepare for the resumption of football and safe return of supporters to their stadiums.

The new Matchday Support Fund will help clubs to put measures in place that will make grounds safer for the 2020/21 season given the additional risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This announcement follows the recent publication of Government and FA guidelines for the return of football and spectators at this level.

The grants will be managed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), which is financed by the Premier League and supports Non-League and Women’s Football Pyramid clubs with the cost of improvements to their grounds.

The application window is now open to eligible National League System clubs in Steps 1-6, the Welsh Premier League and women’s clubs in Tiers 1-5. In total, 65 leagues and more than 1,100 clubs will be able to benefit from this financial support. The window closes on 16 September.

Grants range from £1,000 to £20,000 and the amount clubs can apply for has been appropriately aligned with the tier they play at. These have been developed in consultation with stakeholders from the National League System and Women’s Football Pyramid.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: “As football matches across the country begin to resume, the safety of everyone remains of paramount importance. I

“t is crucial that clubs are able to adapt their stadiums and grounds to allow games to be played and also for supporters to return to the stands. We are doing everything we can to get fans back into Premier League stadiums, but we also want to help clubs throughout the football pyramid to do the same.

“I’m pleased that, beyond our existing support to the wider game, the Premier League is able to offer this additional funding via our Football Stadia Improvement Fund. We hope this will help more than 1,000 men’s and women’s teams across different leagues get matchday ready and safely welcome fans back into their grounds, in line with Government guidance.”

This announcement follows the recent provision of the Pitch and Club Preparation Funds, which saw £8.7m in grants from the Premier League, the FA and Government’s Football Foundation awarded to prepare the country’s playing surfaces and facilities for the return of football.

These latest Matchday Support grants will help clubs to make the necessary changes to satisfy the latest FA, Welsh FA and Government guidance, covering two key areas of the matchday experience:

Stadium – grants can help clubs make the physical infrastructure changes required to reopen their stadia in line with the latest guidance. This includes conducting risk assessments and implementing measures, such as reducing capacity and creating capacity for socially distanced movement.

Supporters – grants can also be used to help ensure supporters’ safe travel to and from stadia, as well as their attendance at the game, and the implementation of NHS Track and Trace measures. This could include:

  1. The purchase of contactless payment technology.
  2. The installation of hand-sanitisation points.
  3. Implementing advance ticketing systems.
  4. Specialist consultancy support around risk assessments or travel plans.
  5. Fan engagement interventions – such as additional signage, stewarding or transport hubs

The FA recently released guidance to help providers of outdoor football facilities achieve the Government’s guidelines. The providers will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, then adapt their facilities via three key ‘controls’: promoting good hygiene; keeping facilities and equipment clean; maintaining social distancing and avoiding congestion.

Robert Sullivan, Interim Chief Executive of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “The much-anticipated return to action for Non-League, women’s and Welsh Premier League clubs is welcome news.

“It’s important that it’s also a safe return, so this is another welcome helping hand from the Premier League towards achieving that. Clubs have until 16 September to get their application in, so they should visitwww.footballfoundation.org.uk now to ensure they don’t miss out.”

The application window will be open between 2 September and 16 September 2020.  Please visit the Football Foundation website for further details on the Matchday Support Fund and how to apply.

Level Maximum grant amount*
Step 1 £20,000
Step 2 £15,000
Step 3 £10,000
Step 4 £7,000
Step 5 £4,000
Step 6 £2,000

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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