Grassroots clubs up and down the country have until Monday 25 May, 2020 to make the most of the new Pitch Preparation Fund, which gives financial support to those struggling to maintain their football pitches.
With football facing unprecedented challenges after the COVID-19 outbreak, the funding is a direct response to a need across the game, providing grants to clubs who have lost normal revenue streams while helping them prepare their playing surfaces after challenging winter weather conditions.
This funding of £9.56million, to be distributed by the Football Foundation, has been provided by the Foundation's partners, the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England.
It will help put clubs in a position to start playing again when it is safe to do so, following Government advice. It is estimated the fund will benefit up to 4,000 grassroots clubs and organisations.
"These are unprecedented times, not only within football but for society as a whole, and our thoughts are with all those who have been directly affected by COVID-19," Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said.
"This funding will ensure vital work can be conducted on pitches throughout the country"
"On top of our existing financial commitment to football facilities, this funding will ensure vital work can be conducted on pitches throughout the country to help clubs prepare for when it is safe for the game to resume.”
The fund is open to football clubs and voluntary organisations who maintain their own natural grass pitches and have at least 12 months’ security of tenure. Clubs with suitable tenure for a 3G artificial grass pitch are also eligible to apply.
Grassroots football clubs and organisations, FA National League System Clubs from Step 1-6, Welsh Cymru Premier League clubs and clubs in The FA Women’s pyramid (Tier 1-5) who maintain their own natural grass and third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches, are among those eligible to apply for funding.
The application window will be open until 21:00 BST on Monday 25 May.
"This fund reflects the determination of the Premier League, The FA and Government to work together to make funding available to help get pitches match-ready for when restrictions are lifted," Robert Sullivan, the Football Foundation Interim Chief Executive, said.
The funding will help eligible clubs with essential maintenance works, which could include vertical decompaction, slitting, over seeding, fertilising and weedkilling, as well as routine preparatory works such as grass-cutting and the setting out and line-marking of pitches. For artificial surfaces, eligible works could include deep cleaning, overmarking and FA pitch testing.
"We’re doing all we can to help the sport sector through this difficult time and that includes grassroots football that has such a positive impact on millions of people's lives," Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said.