Local MP joined by John Hendrie to unveil new all-weather pitch


John Grogan, MP for Keighley, was joined by former Bradford City FC player John Hendrie to officially open a state-of-the-art all-weather pitch for Ilkley Town FC recently (Sunday 4 February). The new facility was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation.

The grant enabled the club, which currently has 24 teams ranging from Mini-Soccer to Veterans, to install a brand new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP). The new playing surface can be used all-year-round, even in bad weather, giving the club improved flexibility when it comes to scheduling matches and training.

The grant also facilitated the reconfiguration of the site’s existing grass pitches. They now provide two full-size pitches and two 9v9 pitches. This, along with the new all-weather surface, will support the club in providing sport for the community – especially on evenings and weekends.

It is expected that the facilities will become a hub site for the West Riding FA. The County FA will use the new 3G AGP to support the delivery of coaching education, as well as working with Ilkley Town FC and Ability Counts to develop the disability game locally. They will also support the club in its efforts to improve female football participation.

Ilkley Town FC were awarded a £376,613 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund towards the project. The club worked alongside the Football Foundation and the West Riding FA to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

The club plans to introduce a further eight teams to its roster, taking their total to 32. In combination with usage from Burley Trojans FC and Ilkley Grammar School, it is expected that overall sports participation will increase by 77% for the site.

Increasing girls’ football participation is an important objective for the club. They have appointed a Football Development Officer to liaise with the County FA and local primary schools, as well as to hold recreational sessions, in support of this. As a result, it is expected that on-site female football participation across all ages will rise by 66%.

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level. Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 533 grants worth £19.8m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £39.3m across the whole of West Riding.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game. Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

John Grogan, MP for Keighley, said: “It’s always a pleasure to see investment in grassroots sport for our area, and Ilkley Town FC’s new all-weather pitch is a great example of this. I’d like to thank the club for inviting me to officially unveil their facilities, and congratulate them for their efforts in securing funding for the project and bringing this to fruition.

“The Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England are working well together to support grassroots sport. Their funding, delivered by the Football Foundation, is hard at work developing facilities like this one across the country. It is important that a good proportion of the TV money which football enjoys is seen to assist the development of the next generation of players in clubs up and down the land. The funding is also helping to create new jobs and encourage more people to get active, benefiting whole communities.”

John Hendrie, who played for Leeds United FC, Middlesbrough FC and Barnsley FC in addition to his four years at Bradford City FC, said: “I’m really pleased to help unveil this new pitch for Ilkley Town FC, and my thanks go to the club for inviting me to do so. Ilkley Town FC is an integral part of the community here, and it’s great that more local people now have access to a state-of-the-art facility. The club worked hard to get funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, and I’d like to thank the Fund for their support of grassroots football.”

Simon Armstrong, Ilkley Town FC Facility Manager, said: “We’re incredibly thankful Mr Grogan and Mr Hendrie could open our outstanding community facility. The club, as a whole, did an incredible job of raising the funds in such a short space of time and with the assistance of the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund we’ve been able to deliver a unique sporting experience in Ilkley.

“The 3G pitch is already having a huge impact with Ilkley Grammar School use during the day, all Ilkley teams training at the same site and an average four to five club fixtures being played every weekend on the new surface. Community Partners Burley Trojans FC and West Riding FA are constantly feeding back on the quality of the surface and set up we now have.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see Ilkley Town FC join thousands of local clubs who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of their new 3G AGP and improved grass pitches. I’d like to thank John Grogan MP and John Hendrie for officially unveiling the club’s facilities.

“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England. 

“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.” 

For further details on The Premier League & The FA Funding, click here