The FA’s Pilot Hubs in Sheffield

The 3G football pitch construction of 2 brand new pitches at Thorncliffe Recreation Ground

In 2014, The Football Association unveiled its plan to build more than 150 new “football hubs” at over 30 major UK city locations. In order to achieve this, the FA pledged to invest more than £230 million into 3G football pitch construction by creating new “football hubs”.

Sheffield was selected as the first city to benefit from the “football hubs” and with backing from Sheffield City Council, the new project was to become known as “Parklife”. The Parklife project would see more than £6.8 million invested in football in Sheffield over a few sites across the city.

Planning permission was granted for the first two sites in 2015, Greg Dyke, Chairman for the FA said, “This is excellent news for grassroots football in Sheffield and a significant step towards making our vision of creating publicly accessible football hubs across all major cities by 2020 a reality.” “Introducing city hubs is a key recommendation of the Chairman’s Commission as a means of protecting football facilities from a potential downward spiral of declining quality brought about by inevitable reductions in local authority funding as fiscal budgets are squeezed.”

Paul Billington, Director of Culture, Sport and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, also added “I’m really pleased that planning permission has been granted for the first of these new football facilities, which will significantly improve the quality of the grassroots football provision here in Sheffield,” he said. “As well as being a boost for those who already play football, this new partnership with The FA is expected to increase participation and, in the longer term, provide a financial saving to the council as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches.”

McArdle Sport Tec won a competitive tender for the 3G football pitch construction of the new pitches at the second site of the Sheffield’s Parklife Scheme, Thorncliffe Recreation Ground. The new football hub was to be built alongside the new £7 million North Active Leisure Centre and the project included the installation of two new, full size 3G pitches for football, each with specialist fencing and floodlighting, and two fully drained 11v11 natural grass pitches. It also included a changing room, coach education facility and social space.

The proposed third site in Sheffield is set to boast two full-sized 3G pitches and natural turf pitches, a fitness centre, changing rooms and an education facility. Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council, said, “This partnership with the FA is a great thing for our city. I’m delighted to see this grassroots scheme moving forward with the announcement of the third football hub site, which will also create a fantastic new public health facility in the south east of Sheffield.” She added, “Football is Sheffield’s biggest team sport with over 800 teams, the majority of which are junior and youth teams. It is significant for sports participation, community activity and associated health benefits.”

Kelly Simmons, The FA’s director of participation and development, said: “The vision of building football hubs in up to 30 key cities and towns has begun and we applaud Sheffield for leading the way.”

McArdle Sport Tec believe that more 3G football pitch construction, and the creation of football hubs across the UK should have a positive impact on grassroots football as all-weather pitches provide much longer playing times and are not weather dependant.