Communities across the country will benefit from £6 million of vital funding as the English Football League (EFL) and its title partner Sky Bet today unveil the Building Foundations Fund - to breathe new life into community projects throughout England and Wales.
Launching at Barnsley FC, the Building Foundations Fund represents the largest multi-year sponsor-backed fund dedicated solely to community activity and will give the 72 EFL clubs a chance to bid for grants of up to £100,000 to invest in ongoing programmes or to develop new initiatives.
From the current 2023/24 season Sky Bet will invest £1 million per year into the Fund. A panel of industry experts including Sky Bet ambassador Jeff Stelling will select the winning bids across a range of categories, such as improving local sporting facilities or promoting the physical and social benefits of the game.
To mark the start of the Building Foundations Fund, Club Community Organisations (CCOs) at each of the 72 EFL Clubs will have the opportunity to spend an initial £10,000 grant.
Former Leicester City, Liverpool and England star Emile Heskey joined EFL Chair Rick Parry and Sky Bet Managing Director Dan Colton at Barnsley’s 3G pitch to meet participants from its walking football programme, an existing community scheme for over 35’s that will benefit from the 2023/24 funding.
Blackburn Rovers plan to use the initial £10,000 to grow its ‘Remember the Rovers’ programme which holds weekly sessions at Ewood Park, bringing people living with dementia together, who may otherwise be in social isolation, through the power of footballing memories.
Rick Parry, EFL Chair, said: “Unrestricted funding for community activity on this scale is hard to find and presents an exciting opportunity for EFL clubs to further enhance the impact in the areas they are located.
“We are extremely grateful to Sky Bet for its ongoing support to the professional game in this country and this new investment via the Building Foundations Fund will create a long-lasting legacy for the EFL and Sky Bet partnership.”
Jeff Stelling, voted Sports Broadcaster of the year for five years when presenting Sky Sports Soccer Saturday, said: “Everybody knows my love of the English Football League. I also know all too well how lower league clubs and the communities around them struggle for financial support.
“I’m delighted to play a part in the Building Foundations Fund and I truly believe it presents a great opportunity to make a real difference.”
The EFL and Sky Bet agreed a record extension earlier this year that saw the sports betting brand continue as the League’ title partner until the end of the 2028/29 campaign. The commitment to a community fund was an integral part of the extension agreement.
First agreed in 2013, the partnership represents one of the longest and most significant in professional sport. The partnership is built around safer gambling and delivering joint objectives in a socially responsible way.
Dan Colton, Managing Director, Sky Bet said: “We’re incredibly proud of our long-standing partnership with the EFL – it’s a relationship that has gone from strength to the strength over the past decade and we wanted to raise the bar further still with the Building Foundations Fund.
“The Fund is a core pillar of our new agreement with the EFL and we’re very excited to see the impact the £6 million will have on such important projects across England and Wales.”
Today’s launch took place during the EFL’s annual Week of Action which is a period where all 72 EFL members unite to showcase the impact that clubs have in their communities as a collective.
With over 840,000 participants engaged on EFL Club community programmes, and 580,000 hours of community activity sessions, the reach of EFL Club community work during the 2021/22 season was vast. Over the same period, EFL Clubs generated more than £865m of social value to towns and cities across England and Wales.
For more information about the Building Foundations Fund please visit www.efl.com