Scottish football receives infrastructure grant for grassroots clubs

Grassroots clubs in Scotland can look to a brighter future thanks to £6 million ($11.62 million AUD) from the UK Government to develop 40 infrastructure projects across the country.

In particular, funding will assist the delivery of 20 3G artificial pitches to various clubs around the country, whilst further facilities planned for construction include changerooms, clubhouses, and floodlights.

Scottish football has a unique battle with the elements owing to its location in the North of Europe. Not even a winter break protects professional and semi-professional clubs from extreme weather, which often results in match postponements for frozen, waterlogged, or snow-covered pitches.

Though many experts debate the existence of 3G artificial pitches at professional level, there is very little debate against their importance to grassroots clubs, where artificial surfaces are indispensable to their operations.

Furthermore, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) has evolved its project delivery to increase participation in football for women and people with disability.

Poignantly, UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, discussed the grant at Glasgow Girls and Women FC – a football club that has typified efforts to build inclusivity and participation in the Scottish game.

The club boasts six youth sides from under-eights to under-18s and a senior women’s team who play in the 2nd league of the Scottish Women’s Premier League. They will be one of several clubs to benefit, with development of a new, state-of-the-art pitch.

Offord linked the recent success of Scotland’s national teams to its continuing investment in grassroots football.

“The achievements of Scotland’s men’s and women’s football teams are in no small part down to the dedication of those at grassroots level. Providing high-quality facilities the length and breadth of Scotland that are accessible to all is vital,” he said via media release.

“These 40 projects will nurture the talent of the future, encouraging everyone in the community to have fun, be active and embrace all the benefits that brings for physical and mental health.”

The SFA’s Grassroots Pitch & Facilities Fund has already delivered significant projects to lower socio-economic areas of Scotland. UK Government Sports Minister, Stuart Andrew, believes the grant is symbolic of these efforts to promote physical activity in Scotland.

“Sport and physical activity is vital to our mental health and wellbeing, and each year thousands of people make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more,” Andrew added via press release.

“We know that one of the major barriers in getting active is access to high-quality sports facilities, which is why we are delivering 40 new projects in Scotland.”

Finally, SFA President Mike Mulraney highlighted his organisation’s success in delivering its vision.

“One of the priorities for the Scottish FA is ensuring that local communities across the nation have access to facilities, so it is wonderful to see the UK Government’s commitment to investing in our national game through the Scottish FA’s Grassroots Pitch & Facilities Fund,” Mulraney said via press release.

“It is vitally important for the nation that we continue to make our national game accessible to all and we are extremely grateful to the UK Government for helping us to do so through this investment.”

In 2024, the following projects are included in the round of investment:

  • Glasgow Girls FC – brand new artificial grass pitch.
  • East Kilbride United – brand new artificial grass pitch.
  • Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Football Trust – new changing pavilion.
  • Newtongrange Star Football and Social Club in Dalkeith – solar panels improvements.
  • Glasgow City Council – new floodlights at Knightswood Secondary School.

This grant represents an important moment for a football-loving nation like Scotland, and further demonstrates the value of building partnerships with government agencies to support football expansion.

Newcastle Jets secure A-League future with new owners confirmed

Newcastle Jets have confirmed Maverick Sports Partners as the Club’s new owners. This ownership, subject to final approval from the APL and Football Australia, will launch a “new era” for the Jets under MSP ownership.

This massive announcement comes not long after Australian Professional Leagues chairman Stephen Conroy failed to guarantee Newcastle’s future only three months ago.

The statement said that Maverick Sports Partners have confirmed an agreement to acquire the Newcastle Jets Football Club and are now deeply focused on implementing their plans to bring long term stability and success to this Club.

The Group lead by experienced sports administrator Maurice Bisetto who played a major part in the establishment of Western United FC in the A-Leagues.

Maverick Sports Group is an Australian sports consortium based out of Wetherhill Park in Sydney’s South-West.

Newcastle Jets CEO Shane Mattiske confirmed the significant news.

“Today is a hugely significant day for this Club and this community, as we confirm Maverick Sports Partners as the new owners of the Jets,” said Mattiske in a club statement.

“Over the last three years, we have built a strong foundation for the future of this football club, and it is exciting to be beginning a new era with incoming owners who believe in the opportunity that exists with this Club, with this community and with football as a whole.

“Throughout our process, Maurice Bisetto, the consortium representative, and his partners have demonstrated a deep understanding of football and how to bring success. They also understand this community and their plans are very much aligned with the work that is already underway. I know the Group will bring positive new thinking, new connections and a wealth of experience that will drive the growth of this Club moving forward.

“With this transition to a permanent ownership structure, it is important to acknowledge the support that the outgoing ownership group has provided to the Club over the last three and a half years. These owners believed in the importance of this Club to this community and to the A-Leagues’ competition as a whole.

“They have played a hugely significant role in the history of this Club and on behalf of all fans and stakeholders of the Jets I want to acknowledge the commitment and contribution they have made to us all. Their huge support of this Club will forever be remembered.”

Maverick Sports Partners Director Maurice Bisetto is determined to connect with the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Northern NSW Community.

“We believe in this Club, the A-Leagues and its players and we’re determined to build success for the Jets and this region,” said Bisetto in a statement.

“We have been impressed by the strength of football here in this region. We know there is a strong historical fanbase and a strong participation base here and we want to bring all of these people together for our Men’s and Women’s games.

“Our team at Maverick Sports Partners are absolutely committed to, and very excited, about the opportunity that exists here at the Newcastle Jets. We see this as the beginning of a new era for the Newcastle Jets and look forward to building a truly great Club with the support of this community.”

This news is huge for the league and the Jets financially, with the club no longer being a financial responsibility for the four other A-League clubs that funded them (Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Western United and Wellington Phoenix).

The Jets can easily recruit players and rebuild to become a stronger unit on the field whilst securing stability off it, and the foundation A-League club with a healthy fanbase and great location can continue to exist.

Iconic Lambert Park re-opens after $2m refurbishment

Lambert Park, home of the APIA Leichardt Football Club, officially re-opened on the weekend after a successful $2m refurbishment.

The extensive investment for the iconic local club includes:

– Replacement of the all-weather playing surface

– Improved drainage

– New concrete edge, stairs and fencing around the perimeter

– Improved access with a new ramp to allow access on the field

The ground is gradually improving to become one of the premier NPL surfaces in the country and this is another one of many recent upgrades helped by the commitment of the Inner West Council.

Currently the ground has two main stands on either side of the playing surface. In the southern stands, there are dressing room facilities, a social club with views of the game, press facilities and media facilities.

On Sunday, the new look Lambert Park was the home for the APIA Leichardt vs Gladesville Ravens NPL Women’s game, and the day was spent in celebration of the refurbishment, as the club organised an event.

The event included an official ceremony by Inner West Council pre-game, free ice cream and activations which drew a decent crowd to the game.

APIA posted an update regarding Sunday’s re-opening.

“Lambert Park was filled with Maroon and Blue as over 400 predominantly female footballers celebrated the $2 million Lambert Park upgrade,” APIA confirmed on their social media accounts.

“The day was filled with some fantastic football and some great activations and enjoyed by all.

“The clubs would also like to thank local clubs Balmain & District Football Club, Leichardt Saints and opponents on the day Gladesville Ravens Women’s NPL football for supporting the day.

“It was a special day for football in our community.”

Lambert Park is an iconic ground that has seen some of Australia’s best names start their careers there since it was first used in 1954.

APIA Leichardt Football Club has produced more Matildas and Socceroos than any other club in Australian history.

The ground gets another much deserved upgrade and will continue to host NPL NSW matches across all age groups in both men’s and women’s competitions.

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