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Premier League helping Marine FC to a new level

24 Nov 2021

Jamie Carragher sees how League's Football Stadia Improvement Fund has changed the non-league club's fortunes

Marine FC play in Division One North West of the Northern Premier League, the eighth tier of English football, and are one of hundreds of non-league clubs to have benefited from Premier League funding.

In 2019, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher went to see how grants from the Premier League's Football Stadia Improvement Fund have made a massive difference at the Merseyside club.

"Like most clubs at our level, we are highly ambitious," said Paul Leary, the Marine chair. "We are striving to progress up the football pyramid as high as we can.

"Some of the facilities we had certainly needed to be upgraded. An important one was the clubhouse behind the main stand, which has been there since 1929.

"Thanks to investment from the Premier League, we demolished it and replaced it with a fantastic facility of which we are all immensely proud.

"An £82,813 grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund made it all possible. 

"Without the Premier League investment, the project would not have happened and to see the job finished, paid for and opened for the first time was fantastic."

Paul Leary, Marine FC Chairman

"We now have a renovated club shop, matchday office, kit store as well as a kitchen area, servery, hospitality area and first-aid room for spectators.

"Also the grant has enabled us to provide facilities for disabled supporters, and a new entrance and turnstiles. The improvement to the front of the stadium is superb.

"All this means the club continues to provide the required facilities to adhere to Grade C of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria, applicable to our league position, so we do not have the fear of being demoted for lack of facilities. 

"It also helps a club of our size to generate income that helps to keep Marine FC alive. 

"When we officially opened the facilities before our opening match with Dunston UTS on 17 August, it was probably the proudest moment I have had in 15 years as chairman.

"Without the Premier League investment, the project would not have happened and to see the job finished, paid for and opened for the first time was fantastic."

Pandemic support

The financial support for Marine from the Premier League continued at a crucial time last year to help the club deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marine were one of more than 1,000 clubs from the National League System, Women's Football Pyramid and Welsh Premier League to use grants from the Matchday Support Fund, which distributed more than £5.5million.

That money allowed Marine to make their ground safer from the risks posed by COVID-19 for when fans were able to attend.

Marine also made use of the Pitch and Club Preparation Fund, which awarded £8.7million in grants from the Premier League, FA and Government's Football Foundation to help clubs prepare playing surfaces and facilities for the return of football.

"This vital financial support [was] available precisely at the right time after a prolonged period of closure," said Leary. "Without this funding we wouldn't have been able to re-open our stadium and play competitive football in front of spectators."

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