The Premier League has launched a fund to help clubs in the National League System, Women’s Football Pyramid and Welsh Premier League prepare for the resumption of football and the safe return of supporters to their stadiums.
The new Matchday Support Fund will help clubs to put measures in place that will make grounds safer for the 2020/21 season, given the additional risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement follows the recent publication of Government and FA guidelines for the return of football and spectators at this level.
Grants will be managed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), which is financed by the Premier League and supports non-league and women’s football pyramid clubs with the cost of improvements to their grounds.
The application window is open to eligible clubs in the following:
- the National League System, Steps 1-6
- the Welsh Premier League
- women’s clubs in Tiers 1-5
In total, 65 leagues and more than 1,100 clubs will be able to benefit from this financial support. The window closes on 16 September.
"We hope this will help more than 1,000 men’s and women’s teams across different leagues get matchday ready and safely welcome fans back into grounds"
"As football matches across the country begin to resume, the safety of everyone remains of paramount importance," Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said.
"I’m pleased that, beyond our existing support to the wider game, the Premier League is able to offer this additional funding via our Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
"We hope this will help more than 1,000 men’s and women’s teams across different leagues get matchday-ready and safely welcome fans back into their grounds, in line with Government guidance.”
This announcement follows the recent provision of the Pitch Preparation Fund and the Club Preparation Fund, where £8.7million in grants from the Premier League, the FA and Government’s Football Foundation was awarded to prepare the country’s playing surfaces and facilities for the return of football.
The Matchday Support grants will help clubs to make the necessary changes to satisfy the latest FA, Welsh FA and Government guidance, covering two key areas of the matchday experience:
Stadium – grants can help clubs make the physical infrastructure changes required to reopen their stadiums in line with the latest guidance. This includes conducting risk assessments, and implementing measures, such as reducing capacity and creating capacity for socially distanced movement.
Supporters – grants can also be used to help ensure supporters’ safe travel to and from stadiums, as well as their attendance at matches, and the implementation of NHS Track and Trace measures. This could include:
- The purchase of contactless payment technology
- The installation of hand-sanitisation points
- Implementing advanced ticketing systems
- Specialist consultancy support around risk assessments or travel plans
- Fan-engagement interventions – such as additional signage, stewarding or transport hubs
The FA recently released guidance to help providers of outdoor football facilities achieve the Government’s guidelines. The providers will need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, then adapt their facilities via three key "controls": promoting good hygiene; keeping facilities and equipment clean; maintaining social-distancing and avoiding congestion.
“The much-anticipated return to action for non-league, women’s and Welsh Premier League clubs is welcome news," Robert Sullivan, the FSIF's interim chief executive, said. “It’s important it’s also a safe return, so this is another welcome helping hand from the Premier League towards achieving that."
The Matchday Support Fund is here!— Football Foundation (@FootballFoundtn) September 2, 2020
Thanks to the @premierleague, a range of grants are now available to support National League System, @FA Women’s Pyramid & Welsh Premier League clubs to prepare for the restart of football and safe return of supporters to their stadia.
The application window for the Matchday Support Fund is open from 2-16 September. Visit the Football Foundation website for details and how to apply.