THE Football Association could help fund a new community sports village next to Leeds United’s Elland Road ground as part of a multi-million pound investment in grassroots soccer across the city.
As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, United want to make Fullerton Park the home of a state-of-the-art development that would boast indoor and outdoor artificial pitches as well as educational and health facilities.
Leeds believe the centre would be a world-class asset for the city – but, when the idea was first announced last October, it was not clear where the money for it would come from. Today, though, as England prepare to play their final World Cup warm-up game against Costa Rica at Elland Road, it emerged that the initiative could be funded with the support of an FA programme called Parklife.
Parklife has already pumped millions of pounds into community football hubs in Sheffield, with work also under way on a £17m scheme covering four sites in Liverpool.
More than £150m remains up for grabs from the programme, with Leeds having been identified by the FA as a “key city” that could benefit from it.
And the YEP can confirm that talks have been taking place between Leeds City Council and the FA about the possibility of the local authority bidding for a slice of the cash. If the council goes ahead with a bid and it proves successful, then up to four community football hubs – each with as many as three pitches – would be funded in Leeds.
Possible sites earmarked by the council for the hubs include Woodhall Playing Fields in Pudsey, Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton and Fullerton Park.
Council leader Coun Judith Blake today told the YEP: “We are pleased to be continuing to work alongside the FA and Leeds United to enhance and improve community football facilities in Leeds and its communities. Football’s capacity to captivate and inspire people of all ages around the world is truly unique, and here in Leeds it remains an enduring and important part of the city’s fabric and culture.”
Parklife schemes normally receive 60 per cent of their funding from the FA, Premier League and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with the rest coming from local sources.
KICKING ON WITH BETTER FACILITIES
THE Football Association says that, nationwide, one in three community pitches are “not adequate”.
Leeds has also been identified as having a significant shortfall of 3G artificial pitches compared to other cities of a similar size.
In the event of a successful bid for Parklife funding, the city’s new community hubs could be in place as early as 2020.
n Sitting opposite Elland Road’s West Stand, Leeds City Council-owned Fullerton Park was United’s training ground for many years but is now used for matchday car parking.