Ahead of Non-League Day on Saturday 25 March, we are highlighting the links between the Premier League and non-league, beneath the top four divisions of the English football pyramid.
One the Premier League’s rising stars went 124 miles south of his home Molineux Stadium to Berkshire for a homecoming of another kind.
Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Kilman returned to his former club Maidenhead United, who play in the National League, England’s fifth tier.
Kilman took in the atmosphere at York Road where he played between 2015–2018, and to catch up with old team-mates, club staff and the fans.
Reflecting on his journey from the National League to Premier League, Kilman emphasised the importance of football at Maidenhead's level for not only players, but the local community too.
“I think it's massive you know, it brings the community together,” says Kilman, who joined Wolves from Maidenhead in August 2018.
"You see a lot of locals that come to these games, and it’s really good for them to have something to do when their local teams are playing."
With the importance of non-league clear to the ecosystem of football, Kilman, who has now made 80 top-flight appearances for Wolves, says the Premier League's investment at this level is pivotal in helping the development of the younger generation.
See: How Premier League provides support across game
The Premier League’s support for National League clubs includes a sum announced last year of £9million, to support the 72 National League clubs with their running costs and sustainability.
A further £3.6m has been made available via the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association’s partnership to support the National League Trust and the network of 55 club community organisations, including the Maidenhead United FC Community Trust.
“Sometimes as a kid, you didn’t have the best opportunities, but all these things being done for the younger kids is great and it’s very important that the Premier League is supporting every club,” Kilman adds.
Maidenhead’s chief executive John Adams has seen how the Premier League funding has helped Maidenhead develop as a club in a multitude of ways.
"It goes towards the day-to-day running and operations of the club,” Adams says.
“The overheads, maintaining the football club so it’s safe and has a great spectator experience. But also, to help us improve what we do, including our marketing approach.”
One of these developments is the new stand built at the club’s stadium at York Road, thanks to £300,000+ in funding that Maidenhead have received for stadium improvements from the Premier League since 2003, via the Premier League Stadium Fund.
Grants have contributed towards the construction of covered seating areas, a new accessibility entrance, plus updated turnstiles and floodlights.
Alongside this, through the Premier League Fans Fund, there has also been support provided to help the club engage with their supporters and help engage the local community.
To date, the Premier League has funded more than 5,250 ground improvement grants to 1,030 clubs across 114 leagues, including the EFL, National League system and women’s football.
The Premier League Stadium Fund, previously known as the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, has contributed over £182m towards projects including the installation of new stands, clubhouses, floodlights, turnstiles, provision for disabled supporters and safety improvements.
Maidenhead’s remit has grown from two senior teams to an additional 52 junior teams, and engaging with over 650 children thanks to the Premier League Primary Stars programme that helps the club work in local primary schools.
“The success of the Premier League supports the success of clubs like us,” Adams says. “Without it we wouldn’t be able to do the things that we’re doing.
“We’ve built confidence to become a club that wants to make a difference in the community and how that money’s filtered down to support us to do what we do.”
On Non-League Day, Maidenhead United travel to relegation-threatened Dorking Wanderers looking to record back-to-back victories.