A £3.15 million fund to help install a Scotland-wide network of full-sized 3G pitches for youth football and rugby development has been announced by First Minister Alex Salmond.
The CashBack for Pitches Fund will use money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act to help install synthetic grass pitches, with a focus on projects working with young people in areas that experience problems with anti-social behaviour and crime.
The grants - of up to £300,000 - will also prioritise pitch facilities that will be used to drive youth participation and development at local football and rugby clubs, with the Scottish FA, Scottish Rugby, sportscotland and non-profit environmental body Waste Recycling Environmental Limited(WREN) all involved in selecting the successful projects.
The funding comprises £2 million from the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, coupled with £1 million from sportscotland and £150,000 from WREN. The CashBack funding has come from a £2 million payment from Aberdeen-based oil and gas company Abbot Group – the first tranche of £5.6 million to be recovered after the firm used the Crown Office’s self-reporting initiative to admit benefitting from corrupt payments made in an overseas deal.
Speaking on a visit to the 3G pitch at the Banks o’ Dee in Aberdeen, which has benefitted from an earlier CashBack funding round, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Our hugely successful CashBack for Communities programme takes money seized under proceeds of crime legislation and hands it on to worthwhile projects working with young people all over Scotland.
"Since its introduction, more than £50 million has been redistributed to good causes, with dozens of cutting-edge CashBack-funded sports facilities now open across Scotland, providing a tangible legacy that communities can use and enjoy.
“Today’s announcement will see in excess of a further £3 million invested in a network of 3G pitches to help drive youth participation in two of our biggest sports – football and rugby – particularly in areas with issues with anti-social behaviour and crime.
"Clubs and local authorities across Scotland will now be able to apply for up to £300,000 to enable them to upgrade or install pitches that will help young people participate in sport all year round, keeping them out of trouble and helping our sporting bodies unearth the next generation of Scottish talent.”
Colin Thomson, Director of Rugby Operations for Scottish Rugby said: “This is a great opportunity for rugby and football clubs to come together at a local level to work with their local authority to ensure a transformation in playing and training facilities within their communities.
"This, in turn, will drive youngsters off the streets and off their couches and encourage them to engage and participate in rugby or football. We look forward to working with the SFA, sportscotland and the Scottish Government in ensuring that this fund goes to worthy projects across the country.”
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “This is an excellent collaboration between sportscotland, the Scottish Government, and WREN which is resulting in over £3 million being invested in state-of-the-art 3G football and rugby dual-use pitches. Scotland’s sporting facilities are the best they have ever been and today’s announcement further underlines our collective commitment to continue to invest in this area.
“This new pitches fund has been established with the full involvement and support of the Scottish Football Association and Scottish Rugby Union, and highlights how all the organisations involved are working together for the mutual benefits of both sports.
“Over the past twelve years, local authorities and the Scottish Government – through sportscotland – have invested more than £150 million pounds in football and rugby facilities, and this new dual-sport fund will add to the 500 synthetic pitches – more than 200 of which are high-quality 3G pitches – already in place across Scotland.”
The CashBack for Pitches Fund will see successful applicants awarded up to £300,000 towards the installation of a full-size 3G synthetic grass pitch for rugby and football. Awards will be limited to a maximum of half of the total eligible project cost.
Applications are being invited from local authorities and other stakeholders in partnership with rugby and football clubs that demonstrate a track record of investing and in supporting increased participation in sport, particularly at youth level. Further information on the application process is available at: http://www.sportscotland.org.uk
In November, the Crown Office reached a settlement under which it will recover £5.6m from Abbot Group Ltd, to be paid in three stages by March 2015, after the firm reported corrupt payments in relation to a deal by one of its overseas subsidiaries. Money recovered so far has been passed to CashBack for Communities, with today’s £2m adding to £1.5m already awarded to Youth Scotland to help the ongoing CashBack programme. The remainder will be used for projects to help youth employability, healthy lifestyles and reducing offending.