Funded with £6m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game.
Clubs down to Step 7 of the National League System can now apply for support of up to 50% – and even 70% in some cases -towards the total cost of their projects. The previous criteria entitled clubs to only 20%.
The Step 2 level ceiling has also been increased from £150,000 to £250,000. This helps bridge the previously large gap of funding available to clubs between the Blue Square Premier and the Blue Square South and North.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore believes the changes will provide clubs with much needed additional support in the current economic climate:
“In these straitened times it was becoming more problematic for clubs to generate funds,” he said.
“It will simply make it easier for people to get hold of funding. What that will hopefully mean is that more facilities will improve and more players will want to play – and, just as important, more people will be able to watch and generate valuable resources for their clubs.”
Grants are now available for several new items that were all previously ineligible under the previous guidelines. These include: players’ and officials’ protected walkways, press seating, team dug-outs, pitch maintenance equipment and ball-stop netting.
The funding of hospitality areas, from simple tea-bars to function suites, has also been introduced to provide clubs with facilities that can generate additional income.
Scudamore added: “We’re always revising the criteria, continuously looking at the funding, examining how much we’ve got and where the applications for funding are coming from.
“We’re trying to meet the needs where needs exist and we’re confident that the alterations we’ve made to the eligibility criteria will not just be welcomed by clubs but see more clubs access the Fund.”
FSIF chairman Peter McCormick OBE has given an early indication that Non-League clubs are making the most of the changes with a high level of interest already being shown.
“We want to see as many new clubs as possible use the money provided by the Premier League to undertake those essential projects that may have been put off over the years.”
For more information on the changes visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk/fsif.