EBAC Northern League club Bishop Auckland are carrying out major renovation work on their Heritage Park pitch thanks to a generous bequest from loyal supporter, Colin Rowell, who died in January 2015.
The club has been given a further boost with the news that they have been successful in securing a £43,054 grant through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funder of non-league football in the country.
During the course of the 2015/16 season, the club, who play in Division One of the Northern League, suffered numerous postponements due to waterlogged pitches despite the tremendous efforts of the groundsman and the club’s staff. Professional advice, through Sports Turf Consultants TGMS Ltd, was sought and it was clear that only major work to improve the drainage would resolve the problems in the long term.
This FSIF grant will help the club tackle this by enabling it to carry out major renovation work to their Heritage Park ground, with improvements to the drainage and irrigation system, delivered by Full Circle Irrigation Services, helping provide them with a first class surface. Work is being carried out by Danvic Turf Care Ltd and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2016.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
The funding will build upon previous FSIF investment of £250,000 that enabled Bishop Auckland FC to relocate to a brand new stadium in 2011. The club have also previously benefitted from the Football Foundation’s Grow the Game scheme, which is funded by The FA and Premier League. These Grow the Game grants, worth over £5,000, helped the club to expand its women’s section.
Nick Postma, Chairman of Bishop Auckland Football Club, said: “The playing surface is surely the most important element of any football club and this work will support our focus of playing good football and our aim next season of gaining promotion from the Northern League. The support and advice we have received from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund in making this grant application has been first class.”
Richard Scudamore, Executive Chairman of the Premier League, said: “I would like to congratulate Bishop Auckland FC on securing this £43,000 grant from the Premier League, through the FSIF, to bring about significant pitch improvements. The additional funding provided by the loyal, late fan, Colin Rowell, will serve to honour his close affiliation with the club.
“This funding is a prime example of the Premier League’s commitment to investing in grassroots stadia projects, like this one in Bishop Auckland, in order to develop clubs at the lower levels of our national game. This development will benefit both players and fans and I look forward to seeing the works completed.”