Work on Chesterfield's new community sports hub facility is well underway, following the award of a £350,000 grant from the Premier League Community Facility Fund (PLCFF).
For many years it was Chesterfield's ultimate aim to build a new ground, away from Saltergate, which was the historic home of the club from 1871 until a relocation in July 2010. The club's new home, the Proact Stadium, was built with the help of a £1.6m grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund that is also funded by the Premier League.
The stadium development project was driven by the opportunities the ground move would provide, including the opportunity to enhance the club's community work. Like the majority of professional football clubs, Chesterfield had a small community programme. Historically, the programme was based solely on providing football opportunities for young people, primarily in the school environment.
Following the move to the new stadium, the club decided to focus on the wider development of the community programme and following encouragement from the Football League Trust, a new independent Trust - the Chesterfield FC Community Trust (CFCCT) - was created.
The club has not only raised its profile on the pitch but has taken the opportunity to increase community interaction and development and as a result, allocated one side of the new stadium to be a base for CFCCT.
The new PLCFF-funded facilities will help the club realise its aspirations of providing a wide range of sporting activities to the community, increasing participation of young people and under-represented groups in community sport and promoting community cohesion through sport.
PLCFF-funded development of the East stand over two floors will provide:
- Under-7s indoor football area
- Club room
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Fitness suite
- Two changing rooms
- Accessible changing room
- Soft play area
- Multi-purpose sports and community room
- Office space
Funded by the Premier League and delivered by the Football Foundation, £18m is being invested over the next three years to develop new or refurbished sports facilities for local people across the country. The fund is open to all football club community-led organisations from the Premier League, Football League, and Football Conference, including the Conference North and South Divisions.
The new PLCFF-enhanced sites help to strengthen links between professional football clubs and their communities, becoming venues for the clubs' outreach work.
Chesterfield's new sports hub, which has been designed by Ward McHugh Associates, will consist of a variety of sporting and physical activity facilities. Included are an indoor sports hall, a gym, accessible changing rooms and healthy eating caf?, as well as a hydrotherapy pool and office facilities.
The Chesterfield FC Community Trust will run a number of sports coaching and football based education projects both in and out of schools as well as elements of the Mental Health and Football scheme in partnership with Derby County.
Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive, said: "Premier League funding helped develop Chesterfield's Proact Stadium into something that is not only a strong community asset but is valued by English football. Now the Proact is set to become an even more important hub thanks to the Premier League Community Facility Fund. Their innovative use of the stadium is to be applauded.
"It is so important for clubs to increase sports participation and physical activity in inner-city areas. That is what PLCFF is all about, providing sports facilities that reinvigorate local communities, and we are extremely pleased that Chesterfield are the first League 2 club to receive this investment."
John Croot, Chesterfield Community Trust director, said: "There's been a lot of work to get to this point and it's great to see the works now underway. The award of £350,000 is a massive part of the jigsaw, enabling us to finish the project.
"It's a unique facility and I don't know of one like it in the Football League. We promised the town a community stadium when we moved here and we're fulfilling our promise.
"I'd like to thank the partners who've worked with us, including Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council and the tenants who are coming in."
For all the latest news on Chesterfield please click here