Funded with £6m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
The key changes at Non-League level that will impact clubs down to Step 7 include:
* The Step 2 ceiling has been increased from £150,000 to £250,000.
(Previously percentages varied starting at 20%, and the change will be of particular benefit to the higher levels of the Non-League Pyramid.)
*Hospitality areas have been made eligible throughout the Pyramid covering all types of food and drink outlets, from simple tea-bars to function suites, in order to provide greater revenue generation opportunities.
*Grants are now available for several items such as players' and officials' protected walkways, press seating, team dug-outs, pitch maintenance equipment and ball stop netting, which were all previously ineligible.
Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League, said:
"These changes are for the long-term good of football. It will be easier for clubs to get hold of funding. What that will hopefully mean is that more facilities will improve and more players will want to play and, just as important, more people will be able watch and generate valuable resources for their clubs. There is £6m there annually for people to access and we want as many to benefit from it as possible. Grassroots is fundamental to football because the wider the base the better it will be at the top. The English pyramid is the envy of the world and programmes like the FSIF will ensure that this continues to be the case."
FTD's Commercial Manager John Booth endorsed this view:
'As a panelist at a recent business forum at Preston North End I was asked to pinpoint one aspect of the game in the UK that set it apart from other countries. We have the most extensive football system in Europe with teams playing at semi-pro level as far down as the Evostik and Ryman leagues. Schemes likes the FSIF along with funding from Sport England and the FA's own development fund have all ensured that pyramid survives.
'Manchester City may sit at the top, but without the lower tiers the game as a whole would come under threat.'
Since it was launched in 2000 the FSIF has awarded around £100m worth of grants towards stadia improvement projects.
For further information follow the link below.