Local Paralympian hero Ian Marsden, a bronze medallist in the 200m para-canoe at Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, officially unveiled Stafford Borough Council and Stafford Town FC’s new state-of-the-art third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP) at Evans Park last week.
Smith Construction (Heckington) Ltd were awarded the contract to construct the new 3G pitch as part of the national Framework agreement, which was set up to improve the overall standard of artificial pitches being constructed and to deliver high quality artificial sports facilities for local communities and grass roots clubs. The project was made possible due to a £536,944 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Funds, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, and a further £62,673 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
The project has enabled the club to replace their previous natural grass pitch, which was prone to waterlogging and subsequent cancellation of weekly league fixtures, with a brand new 3G playing surface that can be utilised all-year-round. The work commenced in June with completion taking around twelve weeks. Smith Construction installed a sustainable drainage system to ensure the pitch did not become waterlogged like the previous natural grass and could be used during all weathers. Upgrades to the car park have also been made, improving spectator access to and from the ground.
Gordon Evans, Chairman, Stafford Town FC, said: “We have worked closely with Stafford Borough Council to enable us to secure the funding to deliver this first class pitch which we hope will benefit organisations across the community, as well as Stafford Town teams.
“The money from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund was vital in being able to make this happen and our new facility will help grow the game and benefit so many players at the grassroots level of the sport.”
Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “I am delighted that a grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund has enabled Stafford Borough Council and Stafford Town FC to build a brand new 3G pitch at Evans Park. This development will provide a real boost to sport in the local area and a special thanks must go to Ian for helping open the new facility.
“Since 2000, the Football Foundation has supported grassroots projects worth more than £1.3bn, investing into areas where the need is greatest and where it will have the biggest impact in terms of getting more people playing football and a wide range of other sports.
“With this funding, provided by the Premier League, The FA and the Government, through Sport England, we are helping to improve community sports facilities across the country and thereby the playing experience of those who take part. This latest project in Stafford is the latest addition to the inventory of modern community sports sites we are developing that cater for the needs of local people who want to play sport purely for the love if it and to stay healthy.”