A £3.15 million fund to help install a Scotland-wide network of full-sized 3G pitches for youth football and rugby development has been announced by First Minister Alex Salmond.
The CashBack for Pitches Fund will use money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act to help install synthetic grass pitches, with a focus on projects working with young people in areas that experience problems with anti-social behaviour and crime.
The grants – of up to £300,000 – will also prioritise pitch facilities that will be used to drive youth participation and development at local football and rugby clubs, with the Scottish FA, Scottish Rugby, sportscotland and non-profit environmental body Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) all involved in selecting the successful projects.
The funding comprises £2 million from the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, coupled with £1 million from sportscotland and £150,000 from WREN. The CashBack funding has come from a £2 million payment from Aberdeen-based oil and gas company Abbot Group – the first tranche of £5.6 million to be recovered after the firm used the Crown Office’s self-reporting initiative to admit benefitting from corrupt payments made in an overseas deal.
Speaking on a visit to the 3G pitch at the Banks o’ Dee in Aberdeen, which has benefitted from an earlier CashBack funding round, First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“Our hugely successful CashBack for Communities programme takes money seized under proceeds of crime legislation and hands it on to worthwhile projects working with young people all over Scotland. Since its introduction, more than £50 million has been redistributed to good causes, with dozens of cutting-edge CashBack-funded sports facilities now open across Scotland, providing a tangible legacy that communities can use and enjoy.
“Today’s announcement will see in excess of a further £3 million invested in a network of 3G pitches to help drive youth participation in two of our biggest sports – football and rugby –particularly in areas with issues with anti-social behaviour and crime. Clubs and local authorities across Scotland will now be able to apply for up to £300,000 to enable them to upgrade or install pitches that will help young people participate in sport all-year-round, keeping them out of trouble and helping our sporting bodies unearth the next generation of Scottish talent.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, welcomed the investment saying:
“This is an excellent collaboration between sportscotland, the Scottish Government, and WREN which is resulting in over £3 million being invested in state-of-the-art 3G football and rugby dual-use pitches. Scotland’s sporting facilities are the best they have ever been and today’s announcement further underlines our collective commitment to continue to invest in this area.
“This new pitches fund has been established with the full involvement and support of the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Rugby Union, and highlights how all the organisations involved are working together for the mutual benefits of both sports.
“Over the past twelve years, local authorities and the Scottish Government – through sportscotland – have invested more than £150 million pounds in football and rugby facilities, and this new dual-sport fund will add to the 500 synthetic pitches – more than 200 of which are high-quality 3G pitches – already in place across Scotland.”
Stewart Regan, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA thanked the Scottish Government for what he described as a “significant investment”.
“The two previous rounds of CashBack have had a tremendously positive impact on football clubs at all levels of the game in Scotland, allowing many of them to realise their facility aspirations.
“The resultant new facilities have contributed greatly to an increase in participation rates not only for football but also for other sports and in doing so have helped support the growth and development of sportscotland’s community sports hub initiative. We look forward to working together with Scottish Rugby to identify a number of further projects whilst keeping the fundamental principles of the CashBack initiative – participation, diversionary activity, development pathways and community engagement – firmly in focus.”
Colin Thomson, Director of Rugby Operations for Scottish Rugby echoed the comments from the others and added:
“This is a great opportunity for rugby and football clubs to come together at a local level to work with their local authority to ensure a transformation in playing and training facilities within their communities.
“This, in turn, will drive youngsters off the streets and off their couches and encourage them to engage and participate in rugby or football. We look forward to working with the SFA, sportscotland and the Scottish Government to ensuring that this fund goes to worthy projects across the country.”