The FA's 150th anniversary celebrations continue today with the launch of a new strategy which will improve and develop grassroots football facilities nationwide.
A three-year plan developed by The FA, in consultation with partners the Premier League, Sport England and the Football Foundation, will ensure the game works together to improve football facilities across the country to deliver a co-ordinated approach to investment.
Targets within the Facilities Strategy include improving 3,000 natural pitches across England, building 100 artificial pitches and developing 150 all weather surfaces while refurbishing changing rooms and toilets on a range of selected sites.
The strategy focuses on developing new facilities, improving existing ones and protecting football facilities for future generations.
FA research with grassroots players, volunteers, referees and administrators shows that regular participants want improved pitches (both grass and artificial), floodlighting, changing facilities and toilets when it comes to playing and training at their clubs.
Roger Burden, Chairman of The FA National Game Board, commented: “Football has enjoyed a remarkable period of investment since the formation of the Football Foundation in 2000 with over £780m invested into facilities across the country with thousands of clubs and teams having benefited from this investment.
“However, it is clear that there is still a huge amount of work to be done.”
Burden added: “Many of our top professional footballers started their careers playing on park pitches for local clubs within local leagues.
“Whether used by a young person taking those first steps in football or as a veteran player or as a coach, facilities have a lasting and continuing influence on our experience of the game.
"For this very reason, investment in facilities will continue to be a key priority for The Football Association.”
Sport England Property Director, Charles Johnston, said: “Good sports facilities play an important role in local communities, they not only improve people’s sporting experience but also help attract new participants.
"Sport England is committed to working collaboratively with The FA and its partners in a coordinated approach to investment which will ensure new and improved football facilities are developed in the communities that need it most.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, also added: “Whether you are looking to develop the next generation of footballing talent, or are one of the millions who play purely for the love of the game at the grassroots each week, facilities are the platform on which all of that takes place.
“With 84% of people citing ‘poor facilities’ as their most pressing issue, the grassroots game has made it abundantly clear where it thinks the priority for investment should be.
“Developing better, well-maintained facilities is the only way to ensure that we avoid the routine cancellation of fixtures due to flooding and poor weather and to ensure that football does not stop simply because it has got dark.
“The FA deserves real credit for engaging with clubs in the detailed way that it has and for setting out a clear plan to tackle the this issue in the National Facilities Strategy document that we are launching today.”
Based on current contributions from the game and Sport England, an illustrative figure of over £150m is expected to be invested into the nationwide strategy by the end of 2015.
For more details download the National Facilities Strategy Document here.
The FA has launched a new three-year plan for facilities across grassroots football