Portsmouth grassroots football sites to be 'revolutionised' by £6.8m investment
Chiefs from the Football Foundation have pledged to invest almost £6.8m in overhauling the city’s footballing facilities, as part of a nationwide drive to boost sporting sites.
The massive windfall will improve 29 grass pitches across the city and will see four new, full-size 3G artificial pitches being built.
Also earmarked as part of the investment plan includes the improvement of seven changing facilities and pavilions, and construction of two, small-sided facilities.
The news has been touted as ‘massive’ by football leaders in Portsmouth, while the city’s culture boss, Councillor Steve Pitt said: ‘This is well beyond being a game-changer, it could be revolutionary for community football in the city.
‘This is about football for all ages and how we can secure a world-class provision for the next 30 to 40 years.’
City leaders are yet to determine exactly how to spend the cash.
But it is expected large sums could go towards rebuilding the destroyed pavilion at Cosham’s King George V playing field.
Upgrades could also be made to the pavilion at Farlington, with enhancements expected at both the Moneyfields and Bransbury Park sites.
Moneyfield, King George V and another site in the south of Portsmouth are also earmarked to house a new 3G artificial pitches.
Rob England, secretary of Portsmouth Divisional Football Association - which oversees thousands of grassroots players locally – was delighted by the investment.
‘This is absolutely massive, it will be fantastic for the city and is nothing but positive news,’ he said.
‘We have been waiting a long, long time for this. There are certainly some pitches that could do with some TLC.
‘King George V and Farlington pavilions date back to the 1950s and 60s and have not changed significantly since then. So this is great news.’
A report by the Football Foundation has identified six ‘priority’ projects to improve already-existing grass pitches in a ‘poor’ or ‘standard’ state.
These include: King George V, Moneyfields, Bransbury Park, Alexandra Park, Cockelshell Playing Fields, Farlington Playing Fields and Paulsgrove.
Meanwhile, two new multi-use games areas – or ‘mugas’ – could also be created with the cash, with one based at Somerstown Central Community Hub and the other at the Mountbatten Centre.
The funding comes after Portsmouth City Council pledged to pump in £145,000 towards overhauling Farlington’s pavilion and £585,000 rebuilding King George V’s gutted building.
Cllr Pitt added: ‘We have been looking at how we can secure the future of our community footballing in the city for quite some time so it’s great the Football Foundation is making this level of commitment.
‘It will require commitment from Portsmouth City Council as well, and that means pound notes on the table. We’re aware of that and ready to make that investment.’
Cllr Pitt added the council was hoping to bring forward ‘more detailed proposals’ by February of next year.