Hundreds of grassroots football teams across England are set to benefit from a funding injection of £5.8m into football facilities.
67 facilities across the country, from Northumberland to Devon, have been awarded grants as part of the new Premier League and FA Facilities fund.
The cash boost, which represents the first wave of investments from the fund, will help clubs and local authorities to develop new sports facilities, including grass and 3G artificial grass pitches and modern changing rooms, in a bid to improve players' experience of football.
The funding itself is not new but a re-branding of the investment distributed throughout the grassroots game by the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity.
The newly re-branded fund provides a more direct link for two of the Football Foundation's funding partners to the facilities they are helping to improve. Between them the Premier League and FA, along with the government via Sport England, will invest £102m in the fund between 2014 and 2016.
The funding partners hope that by providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with age-appropriate coaching, the investment will attract new players to the game and improve the experience for regular players.
Many of the new facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.
Helen Grant MP, Minister for Sport and Equalities, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, backed with investment from Government, shows what can be achieved with a strong public and private partnership in sport.
“By building fantastic all-weather 3G pitches across the country we will boost grassroots football, encourage participation all-year round and also help develop the next generation of talent.”
Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League, said: “These new and upgraded sites will be of huge benefit to local communities, allowing even more schools, clubs and casual players to enjoy their sport. We want to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the game."
Loughborough Students' Futsal Club were awarded £270 for some new goalposts, while South Bromsgrove High School in Worcestershire received a grant of £500,000 for a new 3G pitch and changing rooms.
FA General Secretary Alex Horne said the range of funding was "crucial" to improving facilities up and down the country.
“From small grants of under £10,000 to some of the largest grants of up to £500,000, the fund makes a huge impact in the communities that the facilities serve," said Horne. "Renewing pitches and expanding our 3G pitch network is an important ambition for the FA.”