The Football Foundation, in collaboration with The Football Association [The FA], has today announced a landmark partnership agreement which will see the charity become the official lead sponsor of the England Men’s Senior Team for the upcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures against Croatia and Spain.
The team will wear the Football Foundation’s logo on the front of their training kits and it will feature during pre-match press conferences during this international period.
Martin Glenn, The FA CEO, said: “Football is our national sport. It binds communities together and teaches important life skills. We are therefore determined to ensure we remove all of the barriers to participating in it – the most consistently cited being a lack of quality facilities.
“We are proud of our work with the Premier League and the Government, through our joint charity, the Football Foundation. Our investment and their expertise have greatly helped to address the historic problem of insufficient quality pitches and changing facilities in England.
“However, still too often are community football matchdays, player performances and overall development directly affected. Last season one out of every six matches was cancelled and only one in three grass pitches is currently satisfactory, which simply isn’t good enough.
“So much more needs to be done and we are committed to fixing this problem with our partners across the country. Our decision to offer this sponsorship opportunity for the forthcoming away England Men’s Senior Team fixtures is a measure of that commitment.”
To mark the partnership, Gareth Southgate visited Anglesey Primary Academy in Burton-on-Trent on Monday 1st October to join a surprise training session for a group of 9-11-year olds. The school has benefitted directly from facilities investment in recent years and now boasts a state-of-the-art 3G pitch on which the England Manager put the aspiring footballers through their paces.
The Football Foundation is the UK’s largest sports charity. Funded by The Premier League, The FA and Government, its goal is to build quality community football facilities that provide a positive experience for users where they are most needed as fast as possible.
Since its formation in 2000, the Football Foundation has diverted funding into community football projects across England worth more than £1.5 billion. This includes more than 700 all-weather pitches, 1,000 changing pavilions and 3,000 natural turf pitches.
The primary focus of the charity is to improve the experience of community footballers who play for the love of the game and as a means of maintaining and improving health and fitness. However, in doing so, the Football Foundation has also played a role in the development of current England players. Most notably, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford attended schools awarded grants to develop new high-quality football facilities.
Paul Thorogood, Football Foundation CEO, said: “The FA has been a vital Football Foundation Funding Partner for the whole of the Foundation’s 18-year existence. Without The FA’s financial support – together with equally significant investment from the Premier League and the Government – the Foundation would not have been able to achieve the success it has to date in support of community football.
“However, it is more than just financial support that counts. Over the past few years, The FA has identified poor community facilities as a significant barrier to maintaining and increasing participation levels and a hindrance to talent development.
“Consequently, it has identified fixing this problem as one of its highest priorities and has stepped up its investment into the Foundation considerably. This priority and ambition is reflected in its decision to offer the sponsorship of the two England Men’s Senior fixtures in Croatia and Spain to the Football Foundation.
“It is a reflection of how serious and determined The FA is in taking responsibility for making sure that as many people as possible can play our national game on quality surfaces, which is something that other countries take for granted.
“In the 18 years since the Foundation was established, we have worked in partnership with local authorities, local education authorities and other organisations, such as local businesses, to turn more than £650 million that has been generously provided by our Funding Partners into more than £1.5 billion of community sports projects. This has helped to rejuvenate community football facilities across the country, significantly increasing their capacity and improving their quality.
“However, we still have some way to go yet before everyone who wants to play football at community level can do so on a decent pitch after getting changed in quality changing facilities. Over the next ten years, we are dedicated to working with Premier League, The FA and Government and a wide range of key partner organisations to transform the landscape of community football in this country.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank The FA for this generous support.”
Gareth Southgate, England Manager and Football Foundation ambassador, added: “I am delighted the Football Foundation will be our sponsor for the next two fixtures in Croatia and Spain. Community football is something I am passionate about, which is why I agreed to become an Ambassador for the Foundation 14 years ago.
“The Foundation’s work is incredibly important, as we desperately need more quality playing surfaces and comfortable places for people to get changed. I saw the huge difference their investment makes last week when I joined in a PE session on a fantastic all-weather surface at a primary school which a Foundation grant paid for.
“The Football Foundation is a hugely powerful collaboration, bringing together The FA, the Premier League, Government and many other partners to tackle a national challenge. It is therefore perfectly placed to partner the England Men’s Senior Team over the next two fixtures.”
England play in the next round of the UEFA Nations League against Croatia on Friday 12th October in the Stadion HNK Rijeka and then take on Spain at Benito Villamarin, Seville, on 15th October. Both matches (KO 7.45pm) will be broadcast live on Sky Sports.