Fisher More RCHS New 3G Pitch Unveiled By Burnley FC's Ben Mee

Lancashire FA support grant towards new facility

Lancashire FA's Facilities & Investment Officer Shaun Burke was in attendance as Burnley FC defender Ben Mee officially opened Saints John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School’s new all-weather pitch on Tuesday 10th October.

A grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, enabled the school to replace an existing Redgra pitch, which had fallen into disrepair and was rarely used, with a brand new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch (AGP).

The state-of-the-art facility will be used by the school’s pupils, as well as partner clubs and a number of other junior and adult clubs from the Pendle area.

Fisher More RCHS worked alongside the Lancashire FA and the Football Foundation to compile a five-year Football Development Plan, which is a vision of how sport will be played on site with an emphasis on increasing participation.

Lancashire FA are to work closely with the school to develop provision for disability football, veterans, and female football.

The new facility, which will help to fill local football demand due to a lack of adequate junior and full-size pitches in the area, will also be used by Burnley FC’s Clarets’ Foundation.

As improving female football provision is a key priority, they will deliver girls’ coaching at the pitch, with plans for further community outreach programmes.

The use of the new 3G AGP will not be limited to football alone. The school will deliver rugby, athletics and fitness sessions on the pitch – both during PE lessons and as extra-curricular activities.

As a result, a 97% boost in sports participation for those between 14 and 25-years-old is expected.

Thanks to the state-of-the-art playing surface, it is predicted that 22 new teams will be introduced across the partner clubs, taking their combined total from 62 to 84 – resulting in an 89% rise in football participation for the 14-25 age group.

These new teams will include a youth disability and an open-age side, and 10 brand new female teams. Two of these will be open-age, as the school and clubs are hoping to develop and strengthen player pathways in order to retain those at the transitional Under-18 and Under-21 levels.

In addition to the new female teams and Burnley FC’s girls’ coaching, it is expected that Lancashire Sport – a local sports provider – will use the pitch as a venue for ‘This Girl Can’ sessions. The Lancashire FA also plan to deliver sessions from their ‘Girls United’ programme at the 3G AGP.

The school worked in partnership with the Lancashire FA to secure a £538,160 grant from the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund. £100,000 was also granted from Lancashire County Council towards the total cost of the project.

Founded in 2000, the Football Foundation is the largest sports charity in the UK funded by the Premier League, The FA and Government, via Sport England. It develops new and refurbished grassroots sports facilities in order to improve the quality and experience of playing sport at the grassroots level.

Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded around 15,000 grants worth more than £580m towards improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £800m – £1.4bn of investment into the grassroots game.

Since 2000, the Football Foundation Funding Partners’ investment has provided 471 grants worth £13.7m towards grassroots sports projects worth over £32m across the whole of Lancashire.

By providing more high-quality facilities, coupled with coaching at the appropriate age group, the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund aims to improve the experience for regular players as well as attracting new players to the game.

Many of the new state-of-the-art facilities will serve to strengthen the connection between professional football clubs and their local communities, particularly in the most deprived areas of the country, through the professional clubs’ community trusts’ outreach work.

Ben Mee, who joined Burnley in 2012 and has made nearly 200 appearances since, said: “This is a fantastic new facility for Lancashire and one I was privileged to open for everyone. You could see straight away the benefit that the pitch is going to have – loads of youngsters just enjoying playing football with their mates.

“I remember when I was that age and it’s an important time to practice your skills. That is made a lot easier if you have a quality facility on your doorstep, not a muddy field that gets waterlogged or isn’t floodlit through the winter.

“I am really pleased to hear that the club’s Clarets’ Foundation will be so involved at the new pitch delivering great community initiatives, which use the power of football to engage young people. Great news too that other sports like rugby and athletics will also take place on the pitch.

“Investment from the Premier League, as well as The FA and the Government made this pitch possible. It’s really important that we look after the grassroots game, so well done to those at the top of the game for recognising the need to build better facilities.”

Simon Atkin, Assistant Headteacher, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More RCHS, said: “I must thank both Lancashire County Council and the Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund for making this £650,000 project possible. Pendle has been in desperate need for a facility such as this for many years. Not only will fewer 11-a- side games be called off, but this site will now provide the area with four 5-a-side pitches, two 7-a-side pitches and two 9-a-side pitches for junior football.

“Both, the East Lancashire Alliance Junior League and Accrington and District Junior League will benefit from playing their league matches here throughout the winter period. In addition, our school children will enjoy PE lessons on this fabulous pitch with our school teams no longer having to walk a mile to local council pitches for their home games.

“I must also thank our partner clubs: Pendle Forest FC, Barrowford Celtic FC and Colne FC, alongside Pendle Borough Council, for the work they have put into this project. We were absolutely delighted today to have Ben Mee from Burnley FC to officially open the pitch and appreciate him taking the time to do so for our Burnley mad school!”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The Premier League & The FA Facilities Fund provides the investment necessary to improve grassroots football facilities. So, I am delighted to see Fisher More RCHS join thousands of local clubs and organisations who have reaped its benefit, in this case through the opening of an all-weather pitch. I’d like to thank Ben Mee for taking the time to unveil the new facility.  

“Having delivered over £1.4bn of grassroots sports infrastructure projects, the Football Foundation has developed a network of accessible, first-class facilities in areas they will have the greatest impact – thanks to money from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England.

“These facilities are more than places to play football at, these facilities are hubs of physical activity, the bedrock of local communities and ‘homes from home’ for so many who also use them as social outlets to learn new skills, gain work experience and other qualifications.”

For further information on grants and investment for clubs and facilities in Lancashire, please contact Shaun Burke at shaun.burke@lancashirefa.com.


Let us know your thoughts on grassroots football in Lancashire! Take the FA Grassroots Survey and give us your feedback!

Once you've done it, take a screenshot of the final page and click here to enter our competition to win free match tickets!