The Football Association (FA) is in talks to bring its ambitious grassroots Parklife project to Southampton – and will encourage bids from other cities from October.
Kelly Simmons, who is the governing body’s director of participation and development, said there had been discussions about partnering with the city’s council to build football hubs as part of its strategy to revolutionise grassroots football facilities in England.
If talks are successful, Southampton will one of four locations set to benefit from the facilities thus far.
Two centres in Sheffield have already been established as part of a pilot programme, while centres in Liverpool and London are expected to come to fruition, with two sites in the latter – Rectory Park and Gunnersbury – being earmarked.
Local authorities who want to invest in the facilities will be able to bid for funding from next month.
The FA, Premier League and Sport England are ploughing in around £50m (US$64.9m, €58.1m) each for the nationwide strategy, and councils are expected to fund 40 per cent of any project.
“It does take a significant cash investment,” said Simmons. “You’re looking at around £16m per city of money from us and partner money, but in the end the local authority and the city will have better facilities for the long-term.”
Parklife facilities are designed to be “self-sustaining centres”, and will offer affiliated football clubs and casual users a number of 3G pitches for a number of disciplines, including five-a-side and 11-a-side. Some will include gyms and other recreational facilities.
Read October’s edition of Sports Management for a full in-depth interview with FA director of strategy Robert Sullivan about the Parklife project.
First published on www.sportsmanagement.co.uk, 30 September 2016, written by Matthew Campelli