Grassroots football in Scotland has received an early Christmas present with news of £1.4m of government funding to build new 3G pitches.
The funding from the Scottish Government’s Cashback for Communities scheme - which uses money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act - will fund new full-sized third generation artificial turf pitches for football and rugby at five venues across Scotland.
The Cashback for Communities programme uses the ill-gotten gains of crime, recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, to invest back into community programmes, facilities and activities, with priority given to projects that benefit young people most at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour as a way of life.
The funding - which comes from a £5.6 million payment from Aberdeen-based oil and gas company Abbot Group after the firm admitted benefitting from corrupt payments made in an overseas deal - will benefit communities in Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “This announcement is a perfect example of how criminal money can be seized and used for good to make communities richer places to live.
“These pitches will allow young people to access facilities that keep them out of trouble and encourage them to lead healthy and happy lives. The fact these pitches can be used for both football and rugby all year round means we are encouraging the next generation of sportsmen and women to develop their full potential.
“This government has now redistributed more than £50 million in criminal money to good causes through this unique Scottish programme, with dozens of Cashback-funded sports facilities now in place across Scotland to provide a tangible legacy that communities can use and enjoy for years to come.”
The new 3G pitches mark the first wave of funding allocations from a pot of £3.15 million, comprising £2 million from the Cashback for Communities programme, coupled with £1 million from sportscotland and £150,000 from Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN). The next wave of funding will be announced in the new year.
Scottish FA Facilities Manager Cameron Watt said: "Firstly we wish to thank the Scottish Government for another significant investment in facilities that is sure to have a tremendous impact on the successful applicant clubs and their players.
"We've enjoyed working together with our partners at sportscotland and Scottish Rugby to identify projects that will deliver facilities for both sports. As a result both football and rugby will enjoy over £3m of investment as opposed to simply splitting the pot in half and delivering for each sport separately.
"Cashback for Pitches has been a fine example of partnership between the Scottish FA, Scottish Rugby and Scotland's national agency for sport.”
Applications for funding were invited from partnerships between local authorities and local football and rugby clubs. The five locations to benefit from new pitches as a result of successful applications are:
* Central Park, Dyce Academy Playing Field, Dyce, Aberdeenshire (Aberdeen City Council)
* Mineralwell Park, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire (Stonehaven Community Group)
* Malleny Park, Balerno, Edinburgh (City of Edinburgh Council)
* Whiteshawgate Park, Strathaven, South Lanarkshire (Strathaven Rugby Football Club )
* Dalziel Park, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire (Dalziel High School Memorial Trust)