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First of 150 grassroots facilities given go-ahead

Thu 16th Apr 2015 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Greg Dyke has hailed a decision by Sheffield City Council to grant planning permission for the first city footballing hub as “immense”.

The council gave the go-ahead for the first of what it is anticipated will be the first of 150 such facilities to be built across the country over the next five years.

The landmark development at Graves Leisure Centre to the south of the city is the biggest-ever single investment in outdoor sports facilities in the Sheffield.

The city already boasts 800 football teams, the majority of which are in the junior and youth ranks. 

It will incorporate two state-of-the-art floodlit 3G artificial pitches and a pavilion with changing rooms, a club room and education space. 

The FA chairman greeted the news with delight.

“This is excellent news for grassroots football in Sheffield and a significant step towards making our vision of creating publicly accessible football hubs across all major cities by 2020 a reality," said Dyke.

"Introducing city hubs is a key recommendation of the Chairman’s Commission as a means of protecting football facilities from a potential downward spiral of declining quality brought about by inevitable reductions in local authority funding as fiscal budgets are squeezed.

“The knock-on effect of the programme is immense. It will bring a 50 per cent increase in the number of publicly accessible, all-weather, artificial grass pitches – presenting greater playing opportunities for all." 

He continued: “Furthermore, it will provide a platform for more youth development and coach education programmes, which in tandem will serve to boost the quality of home-grown youngsters entering the professional ranks from grassroots football, where it all begins.”

Meanwhile, Paul Billington, director of culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, also added his own words of encouragement.

“I’m really pleased that planning permission has been granted for the first of these new football facilities, which will significantly improve the quality of the grassroots football provision here in Sheffield," he said.

“As well as being a boost for those who already play football, this new partnership with The FA is expected to increase participation and, in the longer term, provide a financial saving to the council as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches.”

The FA is proposing to set up a local charitable trust to oversee its investment programme. 

In some cases, the trust would take an operating interest in the new facilities and the resulting income would be reinvested in Sheffield’s football. 

Posted by: Kev Howland

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