AMBITIOUS plans to create a new £1m all-weather sports facility at the home of Burton Albion have been unveiled.
Burton Albion Community Trust is aiming to secure funding to build an artificial pitch complete with changing rooms at the Pirelli Stadium – and the project has already received a massive boost having secured nearly £850,000 from The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund.
The site was earmarked for use by the Brewers as a training pitch when the stadium was built in 2005 but the first team squad currently use the facilities at St George’s Park instead.
Now, Burton Albion Community Trust, the football club’s charity off-shoot, has submitted plans to East Staffordshire Borough Council to create a much-needed new facility for the town of Burton.
A decision is expected in the New Year.
If approved, the facility would not only enable BACT to greatly expand its own programme but also see many other sports organisations in the town have access to a new purpose-built site.
BACT’s head of community, Andy Taylor, said: “We have been working for more than 12 months with the Staffordshire County FA and the Football Foundation, as well as local partners, to submit planning and funding applications to develop a 3G artificial grass pitch and a support building with changing rooms and a club room for the benefit of the community based at the Pirelli Stadium.
“The chairman of Burton Albion, Ben Robinson, has enabled us to move ahead with plans for this land to help fulfil a huge community need.
“We have now secured £843,510 of the funding from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund which is delivered by the Football Foundation.”
This grant will provide around 85 per cent of the cash needed, with the trust working on local match funding to reach the £1 million target and currently still needing to raise another £100,000.
Andy says: “Now we have secured the bulk of the funding we believe we have the momentum to reach the target and are looking for partners and funding sources to bridge the gap.
“We tick a lot of the boxes for the Premier League with the project being based at the football club and run by a very successful community trust and also in an area with a proven need for the facility. So we always knew they would be keen to help and we are now working with local partners and already have commitments from Trent and Dove, The Consolidated Charity of Burton and the Local Neighbourhood Development Fund.
“The football club and the chairman’s focus has always been on the community and this funding would not be possible without Burton Albion and the community trust. For us to be able to access that kind of funding through the club’s success is fantastic. In the Pirelli Stadium, we have effectively a community facility already and to have this extra project is ultimately Burton Albion giving back to the local community.
“It’s far greater than Burton Albion Community Trust and the football club, it’s about supporting the development of football, sport and community engagement in the Burton area.
“We can only see positives from this scheme.”
Burton Albion community trust chairman John Jackson believes that it is important to take advantage of available funding to bring this new sports facility to Burton.
He says: “It is essential as there is a shortfall of such facilities in the area and it will fill a great need and enable the trust to expand its operations to cope with more people, offering them increased chance of engaging in sporting activities and creating a happier and healthier community. Such is the need that we estimate that it will be fully occupied almost from the moment it opens.
“It will be a great additional facility for East Staffordshire.
“It is a unique opportunity for the trust to take advantage of funding being offered. We need to enthusiastically welcome this opportunity so we can add to the sporting facilities available to the people of East Staffordshire.”
Funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund is delivered by the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.
Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has supported more than 14,000 grassroots projects worth over £1.3 billion.
Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Congratulations should go to Burton Albion and BACT for working with the Staffordshire County FA to secure this Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund grant.”
If all goes to plan the facility will open in August 2016.