Grassroots football clubs up and down the country are fighting for survival. A combination of a decades-long financial crisis and the COVID-19 epidemic has brought thousands of clubs to the brink of oblivion. But there is some modest help out there. The Football Foundation is issuing grants to the most desperate community football clubs — and here’s how to apply.

What can Football Foundations grants be used for?

Football Foundation grants are there to help grassroots clubs purchase essential equipment, new kits, new pitches, football goals and just about anything that’s needed to run a modern club. 

Since the scheme’s launch 19 years ago, the Football Foundation has awarded more than £1.5 billion to grassroots football clubs across the country. And if your cub is struggling to make ends meet, now is the time to apply. 

Clubs, local associations, football businesses and educational establishments can apply for a Football Foundation grant. 

Help is at hand

If you’re daunted by applying for such a large amount of money, don’t worry — the Football Foundation is offering help. An Engagement Manager is there to give you guidance at every stage of the application process. A Facility and Investment Lead Officer works with local Engagement managers to provide additional support. And once your application is submitted, a Grant Manager liaises with you to maximise your chances of success. 

Just head to the Football Foundation funding page to start your application. Choose the category under which your project falls, and follow the on-screen prompts from there.

Starting the application process

Your club’s Engagement Manager or representative must provide access to the Football Foundation application portal. This can only be done once the Foundation has verified that your club is a priority project. You’ll receive an email with your login details and all the information you need to begin your application. 

Completing the application forms

 There are four forms to fill in as part of the application process. The first is a summary of your proposal. What will you be doing with your grant? How will it benefit both your club and the wider community?

The second form pertains to the project costs. You must make a list of all the items you wish to purchase with your grant. Your designated Engagement Manager will help you to select items on the approved list. You’ll also need to tender the costs of each item. You can contact us at The Soccer Store to obtain product prices and quotes.

The third form pertains to projects that require construction. You’ll need to create a construction schedule, along with all the related management arrangements. And the final form involves creating a plan for project management. How will you manage the project, and who will be your partners?

Site development plan

You have to provide the Football Foundation with a vision for your club. How will you and your colleagues enrich the lives of local people? To help you create this plan, the Football Foundation will show you what constitutes a well-run grassroots football club. 

A well-run club takes education very seriously. A range of educational activities demonstrates your club’s commitment to improving the wider community. 

Project plan

What great activities will your club or facility put on for the local community? What will your club look like after the grant has been spent?

Ideally, you should have a plan for all demographic groups. Boys, girls, adults, disabled people, the disadvantaged and anyone who wants to take part in regular football should be represented in your project plan. 

To support your application, you’ll need to gather together a range of official documents. Technical drawings such as plans for a new building are essential. And if you’re working with partners, evidence of their funding is required. You may also need letters of support from any partners and sponsors you’re working with. If you’re applying for a grant of more than £100,000, you will need to demonstrate security of tenure. You should either own the freehold or have at least a 21-year lease. 

The decision

Unfortunately, there’s no timescale for approvals. You’ll be informed when the Football Foundation starts its review of your application. Make sure you’re available to answer questions, as investigations go into great detail. 

If you’re applying for a grant of less than £250 million, you should get a decision within four weeks — although that’s not set in stone. Grants of more than £250,000 are usually approved or rejected within three months. 

The Football Foundation’s work is crucial to the future of the game. Without these grants, hundreds of thousands of young people wouldn’t have the facilities or equipment needed to participate in grassroots football on a regular basis. There is money there waiting to help your club grow — don’t delay.