Peter Filopoulos: $4.9 million State Government grant a major win for football

Football Victoria has announced that the Victorian Government will deliver more than $4.9 million in grants to 13 different projects as part of the World Game Facilities Fund.

The World Game Facilities Fund was launched in 2018 with the aim to help drive financial investment into grassroots and community football facilities. Since its inception, it has already contributed more than $9.9 million among 38 infrastructure projects.

Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos was delighted with the State Government’s commitment to developing facilities, calling it a “major win for football”.

“This significant funding will immediately go towards the biggest problem we have in football – our lack of proper facilities to cater for the thousands of Victorians who want to play our sport,” he said.

“The Andrews Government has listened to the football community. They’ve shown a commitment that has turned into real action, the kind of which is going to deliver real outcomes for the people who participate in our sport.”

Kimon Taliadoros, Chairman of Football Victoria, echoed Filopoulos’ message and hailed the news as a great result for anybody involved in football across the state.

“When it comes to facility investment, our clubs have been crying out to us from day one and we promised to work with the Victorian Government to deliver the outcomes our sport needs. That’s what the World Game Facilities Fund is all about,” Taliadoros said.

“We are a long way from the finish line, but the commitments made are giving us a real chance of securing the extra 420 Full-Size Equivalent pitches we need by 2026 to meet the demands of the football community.”

This phase of the fund will provide grants of up to $500,000 to councils and alpine resort boards to improve facilities including lighting, turf pitch redevelopments, synthetic pitches, and female-friendly change rooms.

Among the projects backed by the 2019-20 round of the fund, $500,000 will go towards a new pavilion and pitch lighting at Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve. Once complete, the pavilion will feature female friendly change rooms, a referee room, canteen, accessible toilet and first aid and storage rooms. Along with the installation of 100-lux lighting, the Wonthaggi United Soccer Club will have a new home ground advantage for its growing number of junior and female members.

Other allocations include $400,000 towards a new pavilion at the home of the Hume Spears Sports Club at Seth Raistrick Recreation Reserve in Campbellfield, and more than $185,000 towards new lighting at McIvor Reserve in Yarraville.

Victorian Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence said the funding was about giving the sport the backing it deserved.

“We’re on the hunt for the next Sam Kerr or Tim Cahill and we’re all inspired by what our Matildas have achieved already. This funding will give grassroots football the support it deserves,” Spence said.

“We’re making sure that women and men, and girls and boys, of all abilities have the facilities they need to play the sports they love.”

Sky Sports extends rights to NIFL

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will be the exclusive broadcaster of Football in the region once again.

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will once again be the exclusive broadcaster of top-flight football in the region for the next three years.

The Irish League has had a long-lasting partnership with Sky over the years and the agreement will see the relationship in place until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The new agreement will see four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and the BetMcLean League Cup final broadcast live across the UK & Ireland each season.

Northern Ireland Football Chief Executive, Gerard Lawlor:

“We sincerely thank Sky Sports for their continued backing of our game and we look forward to showcasing some of the best NI Football League matches together over the next three seasons,” he said.

“To continue to have the invaluable support of such a high-profile broadcaster shows how far our league has progressed in recent years as we bring our game to an increasing audience of loyal fans.

“The NI Football League brand is continuing to grow outside of the confines of Northern Ireland, and through Sky Sports, many football fans are now becoming more familiar with the rich history of our clubs and as well as some of the household names that have played in the Irish League.”

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes:

“As a long-term partner to the Northern Ireland Football League, we’re delighted to extend Sky Sports’ support of the league and ensure that its entertaining action continues to be available to our customers,” he said.

“Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy the Northern Ireland Football league alongside our ever-expanding football offering in the UK & Ireland which includes over 500 live games in 2022, from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, and this month’s Africa Cup of Nations – placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Valencia CF presents revised stadium upgrade plans

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia’s stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla, was originally under construction in 2009. However, over the last 12 years, due to financial issues and negotiation breakdowns, construction has never been completed and the situation has become known as one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó, with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction license given in 2012.

The plans presented to the council include a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Valencia Mayor, Joan Ribo:

“Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element,” he said.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.

“They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

In December, Valencia revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s strategic venture, with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is reportedly set to receive approximately $189 million AUD from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture. $125 million of which is set to head to the stadium project.

Valencia CF President, Anil Murthy:

“The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council,” he said.

“We have agreed on recommencing work as soon as possible, after presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

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