Funding for Sports Pitch Construction

Making it happen: a guide to finding funding for sports pitch construction in the UK

Sport in the UK today it’s a real buzzword. Its health and social benefits are championed by national bodies, the government and London 2012 alike. But for non-commercial institutions finding capital funding for your sports pitch construction can be a challenge. Whether you’re planning to replace a playground safety surface or build a comprehensive multi sports area, we have the low down on how to find funding and make your sports pitch dream a reality.

National funding for local sports pitch projects

Across the UK the National Lottery is ploughing funding into a number of sports councils. Capital constructions of 3rd generation pitches, MUGAs, tennis courts, synthetic running tracks and much more are eligible for grants.

The Lottery channels its funding through 5 sporting councils across the UK. Funding can be sourced for capital projects or you can request revenue funding to meet the running costs of your sports pitch. Full details are available through the National Lottery but a key point is that your sports pitch construction should aim to promote health, well being and community cohesion. Another criteria is the provision of disability access on your sports pitch or any facility you are planning. Consult our guide to outstanding disability access for more information.

Sport England grants for sports pitch capital and maintenance projects

Sport England is the leading channel for lottery funding and offers grants for construction or maintenance projects. If you have installed a sports surface – whether it’s an all weather pitch, synthetic turf field, artificial football surface or hockey surface, the Protecting Playing Fields fund can help improve and maintain your pitch. £10 million of funding is available between 2011 and 2013, with applications open in two rounds each year.

The fund anticipates making around 300 grants to enhance the mass participation legacy of the Olympic games. It will prioritise projects that need to install new synthetic sports turf pitches or improve current sports pitches through leveling and drainage works.

To be eligible, you must own (or be planning to own) the freehold to your sports pitch for at least  25 years. Community ownership is also favoured, so if your sports pitch is owned by a community body or you are planning to transfer ownership you could enhance your case.

For those planning new facilities – perhaps a multi user games area, new tennis court or running track construction – the Iconic Facilities programme may be the answer. You can request capital funding for a new sports pitch construction, or source grants to modernise an existing facility. Criteria are strict, focusing on driving regular high numbers of users to the facility, incorporating two or more sports, and delivering quality design supported by a comprehensive business plan. Due to their versatility, any type of MUGA or multi sports area is ideal for this type of funding. As with the Protecting Playing Fields fund community led models are prioritised. The fund aims to support a relatively small number of best practice projects – so think big if you want to win a grant from this body.

Other sources of funding for local sports pitch initiatives

Fundraising is always competitive – and due to Sports England’s national profile competition for grants can be fierce. Think creatively when looking for the cash injection you need. For smaller community projects such as a new playground safety surface or equipment, a MUGA within a local leisure centre, or simple upgrades and maintenance, your local authority may have pots of funding available. Or you could seek corporate sponsorship for your sports pitch. Our guide to using new technology to enhance sports pitch construction gives advice as to how to integrate advertising into your facility. You could offer this as a branding benefit to potential sponsors to sweeten your pitch.

Government funding for school sports pitches

For schools seeking direct government funding the news in recent years hasn’t been great. At the end of 2010 sports pitch and facilities funding schools for schools were cut. The good news though is that a £65 million pot remains. Schools can use this funding to second a PE teacher for one day a week to organise more competitive sports. Our advice on enhancing your sports pitch construction during the Olympics and maximising the use of your MUGA will both spark off ideas as to how competitive sports can develop the use of your schools sports pitch.

There are also databases of potential grant makers available to search on the web. Try out Grant Net – a free online services covering the UK. Or you can subscribe to services such as trustfunding if you anticipate longer term needs. Whatever route you go down, bear in mind the golden rules. Your application needs to meet the criteria closely, explain your case fully, and answer all the questions the funder asks. If you’re successful though, seeing your new sports pitch construction become a reality will make the effort well worth the reward.