Amateur football clubs will find some of the borough’s sports pitches vastly improved thanks to investment by Cheshire East Council, the Premier League, the Football Association and the government’s Football Foundation.
A £200,000 injection of funding has been used to buy a fleet of modern maintenance machinery, which will give five of the borough’s sports pitches a new lease of life, creating much improved surfaces, resilience and better drainage.
The council has even acquired a robotic line marker which should help remove any dispute around a ref’s penalty decisions as the machine should ensure precision white lines!
Football Foundation is the UK’s largest sports charity and exists to improve the experience of playing football for everyone, by championing fair access to quality facilities.
The foundation has provided a grant of £100,000 to match the £100,000 invested by the council, enabling Ansa, the council’s environmental services company, to buy new tractors and specialist maintenance equipment.
Ansa staff are applying a new bespoke maintenance programme, using the new equipment to improve each playing field so that soccer teams can enjoy a better quality of surface to play on.
Playing fields benefitting from the new maintenance programme are:
● King George V, Crewe;
● Back Lane, Congleton;
● Jim Evison, Wilmslow;
● Sutton Lane, Middlewich; and
● Mary Dendy, Great Warford.
The funding has enabled Ansa to buy two new tractors, aerators, rollers and other attachments. The robot line marker removes the need for string and line pitch marking, reducing labour costs and improving accuracy.
The new specialist equipment will allow ground staff to achieve a far better, more resilient, grassed surface.
Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council chair of environment and communities, said: “We are grateful to the Football Foundation, the FA and the Premier League for supporting us with this important project.
“Improving the quality and durability of our sports pitches is overdue and we hope that by offering better maintenance and a higher standard of facilities, this will encourage more people to take up sport and lead active lives.”
The Football Foundation offered advice to Ansa maintenance staff on how to achieve a higher standard of playing surface, using the latest machinery and applying a tailored maintenance programme for each sports ground.
Robert Sullivan, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This is great news for the local community. This will support people’s ability to play our national game locally and, therefore, help unlock soccer’s many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing.
“We are committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities and it is therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will support Cheshire East Council to develop the pitches at these five playing fields for their local communities.”
While the new maintenance programme began in time for last season, it is expected that drier weather this summer will enable the ground maintenance team to use the equipment to its full advantage.