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Birstall United FC officially unveils improved Meadow Lane ground in Leicestershire

Birstall United FC officially unveils improved Meadow Lane ground in Leicestershire

Birstall United FC officially unveils improved Meadow Lane ground in Leicestershire
Club Chairman Gary Fox (right) was delighted to welcome Cllr. Ann Marshall, Chairperson of Birstall Parish Council (centre), and Cllr. Ed Marshall (left) for the official opening of Birstall United FC's improved ground yesterday.

Birstall United FC were pleased to officially unveil their new ground improvements in Leicestershire yesterday (Sunday 13 May). This has been made possible by investment from the Premier League, which has been delivered by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).

The investment has allowed Birstall United FC, who play in the East Midlands Counties Football League at Step 6, to open a third side of their ground up to spectators with safer access. The club, which counts current Burton Albion FC player Luke Varney and former Leicester City players, Stefan and Scott Oakes, amongst its alumni, are delighted with the results. 

The project has included creating a new pathway to the ground, where there previously was none, improving safety and accessibility. The ground’s dilapidated pitch perimeter barriers, which had been deemed unsafe, have also been replaced. This has enabled the club to stay in line with the Category H requirements of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria (FANGGC).

New fencing has also been installed to separate the ground from the car park, which is increasing safety and security for the ground. This is not only benefiting Birstall United FC’s supporters and spectators but also its players, by providing a safer training environment. The club hopes that their project will support them in retaining their existing spectators, as well as inspiring new fans.

Birstall United Social FC has worked hard to ensure that their facilities meet and remain compliant with the FANGGC, with help from many volunteers. Head groundsman and second team manager, Phil Boyall, has been instrumental to this project, giving up much of his own spare time to ensure that the works were completed.

The club currently runs two senior teams, with its reserves playing in the Leicestershire Senior League, and are hopeful of entering a side into the Leicestershire Midweek Floodlit Youth League. The improvements made to the site will also benefit Birstall Stamford FC and local Leicestershire leagues, who hire the ground for FA cup fixtures.

The project was made possible by a £16,531 grant from the Premier League, which is delivered through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.

In 2015, before their promotion to Step 6, Birstall United Social FC also received a grant of £19,840 form the Premier League through the FSIF, which enabled them to install a new spectator stand and make improvements to their car-park. This takes the Premier League’s investment in improving the club’s infrastructure to £36,371.

The FSIF is funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League. It 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.

Gary Fox, Birstall United FC Chairman, said: “The funding made available to our club through the FSIF has completely transformed our ground into a small stadium that we are immensely proud of. Their support and guidance through the application process has been fantastic and a special thanks goes to our regional officer Tom Salisbury.

“The project has also benefited largely from the voluntary in-kind contributions given by local businessmen, but special praise must go to Phil Boyall and Steve Toon, two club members who have put countless voluntary hours into the development.”

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “Birstall United FC’s stadium upgrade demonstrates the range of projects that the Premier League commits its funding to. The FSIF, thanks to this investment, is improving the standard of stadia infrastructure all over the country – helping to keep players and spectators safe and comfortable, allowing them to focus on the game.

“I’d like to congratulate Birstall United FC for securing the necessary funding for their ground improvements, which are going to play a large role in helping the club to attract new spectators and retain existing ones. I’m also glad to hear that the project will result in improved security for the ground, providing the best possible environment for players.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
- Sophie Huby at sophie.huby@footballfoundation.org.uk or 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292
- Gary Fox at gary.fox@sypp.cp.uk or 07730 676 719

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