For football clubs playing outside of the top divisions, finding the money required to upgrade key infrastructure can be a challenge. Large scale projects such as 3G pitch works, changing room refurbishments, and floodlight upgrades tend to require significant capital expenditure, and would take most lower league clubs several years to budget for.
This is why organisations like the Football Foundation are so important. As explained in this post, its Premier League Stadium Fund (PLSF, formerly the Football Stadia Improvement Fund) offers funding for a variety of use cases. Despite the somewhat confusing name, PLSF funding is available to clubs ranging from the upper echelons of the Football League down to the lowest tiers of the National League.
In recent years, a number of Midstream’s football floodlighting projects have been supported by funding through the PLSF. By virtue of that, we’ve developed a good understanding of the application process, and what is required in order to submit a successful bid. I also know from personal experience that clubs tend to have two major questions about PLSF grants:
• “How do I apply for funding through the Football Foundation?”
• “What information do I need to complete an application to the Premier League Stadium Fund?”
In this post, I’ll provide a list of the information and documentation you’ll need to gather in advance of any application, and some tips on how to get started.
What information do I need to provide as part of my application?
When completing your application, you’ll need to supply the Football Foundation with a range of supporting information. Much of this will need to be entered or uploaded during the process itself, so preparing everything you need in advance can save you a lot of time.
The list below provides a good indication of the information that you may need to have to hand when creating your application.
• Ownership and governance information
Are the grounds owned on a freehold or leasehold basis? What are the governance arrangements in terms of it being a member’s club, company, charitable organisation, or community interest company? Do you have a dissolution clause in place?
• Existing facilities
Here, you’ll need to provide information about:
Pitches – how many, condition, size, floodlit or not.
Changing rooms – how many, size, and general condition.
Other facilities – i.e. hospitality, meeting rooms, car parking etc.
Ground capacity – seated, standing, and wheelchair spaces, plus any expansion plans that may be in the works.
Attendance – you will also need to provide spectator numbers for the six best attended home league matches from the last complete season.
• Project details
Understandably, a large part of the application is devoted to details about the project itself. This includes:
Project need – a justification of your proposed works.
Project management – the name of the project manager, prior project management experience, and whether external support has been sought.
Timelines – when the project is due to start, and how long it is expected to take.
Contracts – how you plan on appointing suppliers.
A detailed breakdown of costs is required, which the Football Foundation specifies must come from the lowest quote or estimate that you’ve received. Included within this should be:
Statutory charges (i.e. any planning or building regulations fees).
A contingency fund.
As well as explaining your club’s current financial status, you will need to summarise three years’ worth of accounts. This is a basic overview, involving income, expenditure, and an auto-calculated profit/loss statement for each year.
One other key factor here is partnership funding. The PLSF will only cover 70% of the cost of your project, meaning that the remaining 30% will need to come from your own resources or an external source. Evidence of this funding will also need to be provided in your application.
What documentation will I need to provide?
In addition to the information outlined above, you’ll also need to upload copies of certain documents depending on the details of your project. Typically, these include:
• Club governance (or constitution) documents.
• Site ownership documents (freehold, leasehold, or licence).
• Your latest ground-grading inspection report.
• Land registry and lease documents.
• Quotes from three different suppliers.
• Accounts for the past three years.
• A copy of the club’s most recent bank statement.
• Proof of any partnership funding arrangements.
• Income and expenditure forecasts.
Where do I start with a PLSF application?
First of all, you’ll need to create a PLSF account. You can do this by visiting https://apply.footballfoundation.org.uk/ and clicking the “Create Account” button further down the page.
At this point, all you’ll need to provide is some basic information like your name and contact details. Once your account is created and you’re logged in, click on the “Projects” tab at the top of the screen and then the “Start Application Process” button beneath the box labelled “Premier League Stadium Fund”.
The application takes the form of an online form with nine steps, each requesting information from the list above. The information you provide is saved after you complete each of these sections, meaning that you can come back to an application at a later time if you don’t have everything to hand.
What else should I know?
As well as the information above, there are some things that it may be helpful to bear in mind when completing your application:
• For retrofit solutions (those that make use of existing mast infrastructure), a non-destructive survey (NDS) will need to be carried out by a PCN certified technician. The cost for this survey can be included within your application, but this test must be carried out before funding will be granted.
• Ensure that your chosen supplier offers a 10-year warranty on their floodlights. The Football Foundation will want to see evidence of this.
• Photography of your existing floodlighting system will often be requested, so it can be useful to have this ready in advance.
• It is possible to specify your preferred supplier. While proposed costs will always be taken into account, it is worth stating which company you would prefer to work with as part of your application.