- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I officially opened Darlaston Town FC’s new spectator stand on Saturday 17 December 2016 at the Paycare Ground, thanks to a £15,288 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) – the largest funders of non-league football in the country. In addition to this, the club raised more than £6,500 for the development itself. The opening celebrations were held as part of the club’s Birmingham FA Vase fixture against Alvis Sporting FC, who emerged 4-0 victors.
The project has enabled Darlaston Town FC, who play Step 7 football in the West Midlands Regional League, to build a new 50-seater stand, complete with wheelchair access. This development has allowed the West Midlands club to meet the required FA National Ground Grading Criteria, helping aid their future progression up the football pyramid.
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.
In South Walsall alone, the Football Stadia Improvement Fund has awarded grants worth £2.1m towards grassroots sports projects worth £2.8m. In 2003 for example, Walsall FC were awarded a grant of £34,000 from the FSIF to improve their disabled spectator provision.
The club constitutes an important part of Darlaston and Bentley’s sporting infrastructure and I’m delighted that local fans can now watch their club from the comfort and safety of a brilliant new facility.
Community football stadia, such as the one at the Paycare Ground, provide an important focal point for youngsters and adults across the country, allowing families the opportunity to go and watch games together.
Neil Chambers, Chairman, Darlaston Town FC, said: “Today is another major step forward in our history. As part of our five year plan, we continue to improve our facilities year-on-year and in the last two years we have spent more than £30,000 improving the dressing rooms, clubhouse and ground facilities. We have 13 teams from eight different clubs using our facilities and attract more than 30,000 people to the venue each year, who all benefit from our improved facilities. The grant has allowed us to build and erect the stand ahead of schedule and we are thankful to the Football Stadia Improvement Fund for their tremendous support.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “It’s fantastic news for Darlaston Town FC to have their new stand opened at the Paycare Ground. This development will allow more fans to watch the club on a regular basis and help grow their local base of support. Facilities such as this one in Bentley are so important to the broader structure of grassroots sport, and this project is another example of the Premier League’s continued commitment towards the lower levels of the game, through the FSIF. I wish the club the very best for the future”.
I am pictured above with ex-players John Haywood (1966-67), Alan Dulleston (1969) and Gerry Bevan (1965-69), who won the Birmingham Senior Cup. The link to their website can be found here: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/darlastontown1874fccic ; whilst you can also watch me opening the new stand here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbEH5k7YBCk