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Mayor of Tunbridge Wells unveils pitch improvement project in Kent

Mayor of Tunbridge Wells unveils pitch improvement project in Kent

Rusthall
Rusthall FC's Chairman, Joe Croker, was delighted to welcome Cllr. Julia Soyke, Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, who officially unveiled the club's improved pitch .

Cllr. Julia Soyke, Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, officially opened Rusthall FC’s upgraded pitch yesterday (Monday 28 August) ahead of their first home match, against Tunbridge Wells FC. The new surface benefitted from a Premier League grant, delivered by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) – the largest funders of non-league football in the country. 

The funding has enabled the club to undertake vital pitch drainage and levelling works. Previously, their grass pitch was prone to waterlogging which often resulted in home game cancellations. The upgraded facility has provided Rusthall FC with a state-of-the-art playing surface, which will reduce fixture cancellations and enable the club to deliver more effective training. 

The club was promoted to the Southern Counties East League Premier Division at the end of the 2016/17 season. The pitch improvements mean that their stadium now meets the Step 5 requirements of the FA National Ground Grading Criteria. This will benefit Rusthall’s 20 teams, which range from Mini-Soccer level to adult.   

Rusthall received a grant of £50,800 from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which made the pitch upgrade possible. This follows a previous Premier League grant given to the club in 2015. Rusthall FC was awarded £46,200 for the installation of brand new floodlights, helping the club to deliver safer and more flexible training and matches. 

Funded with £6.5m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation – 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. 

Joe Croker, Chairman of Rusthall FC, said: “The total amount we have received from the FSIF in the last 18 months amounts to £97,000, which has improved the stadium beyond all recognition. The levelling and drainage of the pitch has brought it up to the standard required for Step 5 football. As Rusthall was promoted to Step 5 at the end of last season, it was imperative that the pitch was improved to the necessary standard. 

“With the addition of drainage, we expect far less matches to be postponed in the years to come. The renovated pitch will be used by thousands of players over time, and will encourage a greater participation in football from the surrounding area. It enables us to grow as a club and involve more local people in the game, both playing and spectating." 

Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I am very pleased that a grant from the Premier League, delivered by the FSIF, has enabled Rusthall FC to make vital upgrades to their pitch surface. This will go a long way in helping them to avoid cancellations of training and fixtures in the future. 

“The Premier League provides generous investment through the FSIF to stadium upgrade projects for non-league clubs. These projects help to make facilities safer and more comfortable for players, coaches and spectators alike. Well done to the club for their hard work in securing this funding.”

ENDS

For more information, please contact:
- Joe Croker at joe.croker@gmail.com or 07952 773 228  
- Sophie Huby at sophie.huby@footballfoundation.org.uk or 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4292 

Quote

“With the addition of drainage, we expect far less matches to be postponed in the years to come. The renovated pitch will be used by thousands of players over time, and will encourage a greater participation in football from the surrounding area. It enables us to grow as a club and involve more local people in the game, both playing and spectating."- Joe Croker, Chairman of RusthallFC 

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