Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew returned to his roots by launching the second season of Budweiser Club Futures at Raynes Park FC in south London, a programme investing £1million into non-League football.
Pardew has played for and managed many non-League teams in a football career spanning over 30 years. He visited the club, who play in the Combined Counties League and are based in the same area where he began his career, just days before the beginning of the new Premier League season.
Raynes Park were one of the beneficiaries of Budweiser Club Futures last season receiving a £50,000 grant. This allowed the club to renovate their clubhouse with the installation of brand new facilities, including a new kitchen and roof and make some vital improvements to the playing surface at their home ground.
Pardew has been announced as ambassador for this nationwide initiative, which is also backed by The FA, for the second season running. Last season saw the Magpies boss award Tyneside club Blyth Town £150,000 with a further seven clubs, including Raynes Park, receiving grants of £50,000.
The programme will follow the same structure this season. Teams across steps 5-7 of the English football pyramid are encouraged to apply for £50,000 grants and a panel, headed up by Pardew, will judge the applications to decide eight winners. One of the eight will be eligible for a £100,000 Super Grant top up.
The cash injection not only provides an immediate sense of financial stability but also benefits the community, as non-League clubs often the heartbeat of the local area. The grants give clubs the opportunity to improve their facilities and become more sustainable, which will in turn help their chances to progress on the pitch and inspire future generations of footballers.
Pardew said: “Having started my career as a part-time player and full-time glazier I know only too well how hard it can be to compete at this level.
“It’s humbling to visit clubs like Raynes Park and it reminds you how much football means to the local community at any level. You can see the pride within the club and that is something I’ve been looking to drill into my players ahead of our opening game in the Premier League - it’s important they feel proud each time they step onto the pitch.
“Grants of this kind from Budweiser can make dreams a reality for players, coaches and fans alike. I’m looking forward to being part of Budweiser Club Futures again this season and helping non-League football to thrive in this country.”
Last season Pardew visited Super Grant winners Blyth Town to present them with their £150,000 cheque. Later this season he will welcome Blyth Town first team manager, Michael Connor, to Newcastle’s training ground. He’s keen to hear how the club’s improvements are progressing and to learn more about the positive impact it has had on the team and the local Blyth community.
Pardew added: “I was very impressed with their plans and ambition to drive the club forward, so it will be good to catch up with Michael and a few of his staff later in the season.”
Budweiser Senior Brand Manager Christian Flouch said: “We had a great response to this programme last season and as a long-standing supporter of football around the world, Budweiser is proud to be supporting local clubs.
“It is great to see the results of the investments made last year and to know what a huge difference the programme has made to clubs at non-League level.
“To have Alan Pardew on board for a second season is great for the campaign – Alan has first-hand experience of climbing the football ladder from the likes of Whyteleafe and Dulwich Hamlet to Charlton and Newcastle.”
Clubs in Steps 5-7 wishing to apply for the grants should visit www.TheFA.com/BudweiserClubFutures
Closing date for submission of applications is 6 September 2013.