In an attempt to facilitate an additional 30,000 football matches per week by 2030, the Premier League, The FA and the Football Foundation have announced the launch of their ‘Power up your grass pitch’ campaign.
The football governing bodies aim for reaching over 7,000 ‘good’ quality grass pitches by 2024 and 20,000 by 2030 to accommodate the current 12 million grassroots football players across the country.
With 87% of the games at grassroots level being played on natural grass pitches, good quality surfaces are essential for games to proceed and to improve.
Last season, over 150,000 matches were cancelled due to poor pitch quality.
Robert Sullivan, Football Foundation Chief Executive Officer, said: “Millions of players are left disappointed every year when their matches are cancelled due to poor quality pitches, something the Football Foundation and its partners are working tirelessly to prevent. We have made some ambitious targets when it comes to improving grass pitches – we want to get 20,000 pitches to ‘good’ quality by 2030 – to ensure no games are called off because of a poor quality pitch.”
As part of the campaign, the PitchPower web app is rolled out. The app will provide quick and real time date on the state of grass pitches.
‘PitchPower’ is an online tool that facilitates community football club and organisation to carry out their own grass pitch inspections, providing fast and accurate data which is less time-intensive and more efficient than in-person inspections. Regional Pitch Advisers at the Grounds Management Association produce an assessment report with bespoke advice and recommendations to improve the grass pitch quality at a site based on the input they receive through the app.
Football Foundation anticipates that the app will help to carry out as many as 20,000 inspections a year, up from 4,000 at present. In its trial phase, PitchPower has helped to inspect almost 5,000 pitches. These inspections have led to 446 grants being issued worth £8.6m, all of which has gone towards improving 1,564 pitches.
Clubs and facilities that have completed inspections by means of the PitchPower app are eligible to apply for funding from the Football Foundation to support pitch improvements identified through the app.