Places to Play

Here's what you need to know about football facilities in Wales

Together we can protect the future of grassroots football in Wales. Will you join us?

We all know there’s not enough quality pitches for the number of teams playing in Wales. And with the numbers playing the game at the highest ever levels, the pressure on our pitches is getting bigger.

In 2017, we plan to speak up and take action. And we hope you can do the same. Our plan is to work at a very local level where we can tackle very local facility issues.

Meanwhile, you will find resources here to help you.

We are passionate about working with partners and our clubs in finding solutions to the problem.

So you’ll find below case studies of clubs who have gone through the asset transfer process or have developed 3G pitches for their clubs and communities.

The summer of 2016 was proof that we can produce something very special when we put in plenty of hard work and when everyone pulls together.

Let’s do the same in 2017 and protect our places to play.


3G SURFACES COLLABORATION

One of Wales’ most iconic stadiums was months away from being closed-down for good.

In 2015, Jenner Park had become unsustainable for the Vale of Glamorgan to maintain and proud club Barry Town United were on the brink of starting the search for a new ground.

But part of the ambitious club’s vision to return to its former glory was a FIFA pro accredited artificial 3G surface that would help them become a real community club.

In the 16 months that have followed the grand opening by national team manager Chris Coleman, the club’s playing membership has rocketed from 125 to 600.

First team manager Gavin Chesterfield said: “Now it’s about much more than the male section. We have a thriving women and girls section, a pan-disability section, a club based system from U5 to U16 and an academy that goes from U10 to a development team.

“Having those sorts of numbers, it is doable with a grass surface. But to give them a stadium that they can all train and play on, isn't possible.”

FAW Trust CEO Neil Ward said: "This is another excellent example of how collaboration with the Welsh Rugby Union, Hockey Wales and Sport Wales is delivering more artificial turf pitches."

David Lewis coaches the club’s U9 team and says the children love learning and playing in a stadium environment.

He said: “This facility is exactly what we needed. All of the kids are here every Saturday morning, there’s never anybody missing.”

But when the Vale Council spent a six-figure sum on bringing the dilapidated Jenner Park into the 21st century, they were looking way beyond the former Welsh Premier League champions. They wanted a sporting hub that the whole community could enjoy.

Gino Esposito runs the successful women’s section at United. He said: “This isn’t just something for Barry Town United, it's for the whole community.

“We've had clubs from all over the Vale booking slots for training and games here. That’s great to see.”

The post Euro 2016 buzz has seen football thrive in Wales’ biggest town and Chesterfield has praised the local authority for further investments in football facilities this year.

He said: “There was a lot of apprehension at the start, which I can partially understand, but I'm hoping those doubters have now been turned.

“Credit to the Vale of Glamorgan Council, they've just started a new development up at the Colcot Sports Centre, with four five-aside pitches and two seven-aside pitches going up.

“The demand is there and now the kids are able to play football, whereas previously they were getting cancelled all the time and were unable to play key fixtures.”

If you want more information about 3G surfaces, contact our facilities manager Kevin Moon, or head to
Sport Wales’ Club Solutions website.


COMMUNITY ASSET TRANSFER

Community Asset Transfer is a growing trend across grassroots sport as clubs and organisations aim to become more sustainable amid a nationwide rise in pitch hire fees.

But what is it and how do clubs get involved?

Here, our Facilities and Collaboration Manager Kevin Moon answers your questions on the subject...

Click here to email Kevin with any questions or for more details

So, what is asset transfer?

Quite simply, asset transfer is a transfer of responsibility, and possibly ownership, of a facility.

It usually comes from a local authority to a community organisation but those community organisations take various forms.

Asset transfer usually involves a building but in this context, we're talking about football clubs, and in the majority of cases, grass pitches, which is a slightly different scenario.

Why is it important for football clubs in Wales?

We're all aware of the budget constraints that local authorities are under, across a range of services. All authorities in Wales are looking to reduce expenditure and make savings. One of those areas is the maintenance of grass football pitches, hence the move towards transferring some of the liability for that maintenance.

This has a big effect on football clubs across Wales.

Across Wales pitch-hire fees are increasing and authorities are looking towards asset-transfer. This is particularly worrying for football clubs, where they have little access to increased revenue streams to cover the increase in pitch-hire.

Many of them are now looking for advice and guidance from ourselves and other organisations, such as Sport Wales, who can help.

What are the benefits?

The overall benefits can be dependent on the asset that's being transferred. In terms of football clubs, this is generally a grass pitch and maybe some changing rooms.

The overall benefits can be difficult to identify at an early stage. It's a longer-term plan for the majority of clubs who enter into the process but it can lead to a more sustainable club model, if appropriate planning can be achieved by clubs.

The full transfer of liability and responsibility is not the only option for clubs.

There are examples, from across Wales, of different self-management models, and these can be agreed with the local authority with a range of services being provided by the local authority and then that leads to a reduction in feed that clubs need to pay the local authorities.

Outright ownership and responsibility is the end of the spectrum but there are various stops along that line that clubs could take.

Those self-management models might suit different clubs in different situations.

We can provide guidance and assistance to everybody who needs it.

Who can apply for it?

In short, any community group.

Usually the local authority will have an expression of interest form that needs to be completed with some outline information about the business model and what the organisation plans to do with each facility.

That's usually the start of the process but it can be lengthy. This doesn't happen overnight and there are examples of projects easily taking two years to get to a conclusion.

What’s the normal process and timescales?

If I was starting today, I would build in a timeline of about two years, particularly for football clubs.

You must first consider where the club or group are today, what their constitution is an their business plan moving forward.

They need to liaise with the local authority and do their own due-diligence and financial planning.

The application needs to go through various local authority departments for approval, including the legal department, if it is for football ownership.

If you add all that in, two years is probably the minimum that it will take.

This must be quite a scary process for clubs, so where do they start?

It is quite daunting for clubs because it's a completely new scenario for them.

The first question I would always ask is "How are you constituted and what is your legal definition?"

Clubs need to know whether they are a community interested company or a registered charity or a limited company. In fact, there are seven or eight types of legal entity that they could be and defining what they are at the beginning is sometimes the most important point.

That then leads to their aims and objectives and whether they have a memorandum or articles or a constitution and that should dictate their business plan moving forward.

Before applying for grants and looking for finance, that early discussion is the key consideration.

Where can clubs go for help?

There are a range of organisations who can help, especially with the initial guidance. At the FAW, we have a team working to provide services to clubs, be that business planning or advice on asset transfer or pitch maintenance.

Also, the local authority transferring the assets usually have some advice and support for organisations applying for asset transfer within their own departments.

Sport Wales’ Club Solutions website is a very useful resource for grassroots clubs looking for information.

There’s also the likes of Wales Co-op, the WCVA, Business Wales, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and there's a Welsh Government toolkit that people can access.

In the first instance, for a football club, please contact me and I can signpost you to other organisations that can assist.

USEFUL LINKS


http://wales.coop/community-shares-wales
http://www.wcva.org.uk
https://businesswales.gov.wales
http://wales.coop/community-shares-wales
http://www.clubsolutions.wales/community-asset-transfer
http://gov.wales/topics/people-and-communities/communities/community-asset-transfer/

What about equipment and what comes with the transfer?

There is a lot of equipment required that clubs might not think of at first.

Firstly consider the playing surface, most clubs don’t have a mower, they might not have a white line machine, they almost certainly won't have a tractor or drainage equipment.

There are very few grants available to purchase equipment, which is a major difficulty with transfer of pitches but the equipment is something clubs could consider buying in when they need it, rather than purchasing it up-front.

Can asset transfer be done as a partnership?

It can be a partnership of different organisations, possibly different sports clubs, but they would all need to be part of whatever legal constitution is agreed at the outset to take the project forward.

Which clubs or organisations have really made this work?

Mumbles Rangers, in Swansea, are a very good example. They have taken over their Underhill Park ground, in partnership with Mumbles RFC.

It is a project they've been working on for several years and they have quite ambitious development plans.

They have worked closely with the local authority to take over the pitches and the changing rooms that were previously unfit for purpose.

They now have plans to expand to three or four pitches.

Also, there's the Neath Junior League, who have taken responsibility for managing the pitches and fixtures in their area, which is a model that has worked particularly well for them.

There are several clubs going through this process right now and they are all having different experiences, many are positive, some not so, but they'll all agree that it takes time and patience is the key.

Thanks to Sport Wales for their help compiling this article


Wales' First Indoor 3G Football Pitch

Wales’ first indoor 3G football pitch is being built at the University of South Wales.

The massive investment by the FAW Trust’s higher education partner also involves two new floodlit outdoor 3G pitches.

Once the exciting project is completed, the FAW Trust will be 60 per cent the way to their ambitious target of 100 artificial pitches in Wales by 2024.

The new facility, which is being built by Kier Construction and was designed by Atkins, is due to be completed by the end of 2017.

FAW Trust CEO Neil Ward said: “This is fantastic news. Not only for students on USW courses but for the wider community.”

On the eve of Wales’ World Cup Qualifier against Republic of Ireland, Mr Ward spoke to BBC Radio Wales about the importance of getting the right blend of artificial surfaces and grass pitches.

He said: “Artificial pitches are expensive to build, maintain and replace so we need to ensure there's the critical mass, the number of people in the area in order to sustain the commercial plan to make them successful.

“It's really important that the Welsh Government and local authorities understand the importance of protecting investment in grassroots pitches.

“I see this as a public health issue. There's a disconnect as far as I'm concerned between achieving an active, healthy nation and access to affordable facilities to take part in sport.

“It's important that we work with local authorities, at a local level, to form action plans for the future that identify ways in which we can protect existing investment and plan future provision.”


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