LIKE all Step Three and Four non-League clubs, Stratford Town have been hit hard by the global Coronavirus pandemic – but their footballing future looks bright again thanks to the new ‘Pitching In’ Investment Programme.
Former England international Stuart Pearce, who started his career with non-League Wealdstone before going on to enjoy illustrious stints with Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, West Ham and Manchester City, has joined forces with GVC Holdings to offer financial assistance to non-League clubs.
No league action since March and a lack of matchday and commercial revenues subsequently has put considerable financial strain on clubs.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel ahead of the new season, with Stratford Town one of 228 Southern, Isthmian and Northern Premier League teams to benefit from ‘Pitching In’ – a grassroots sports investment programme launched by GVC Holdings.
“I am delighted to be taking up the role of ambassador for ‘Pitching In’, as I’m passionate about the importance of investing in grassroots sports and in developing young talent,” said Pearce.
“I started out playing for Wealdstone before joining Coventry City, so I understand how important funding is to the non-League game.
“Grassroots football is facing huge challenges at the moment and many clubs are struggling to stay afloat.
“GVC’s Pitching In investment will help make a big difference to hundreds of clubs and thousands of players across the country.”
The multi-million-pound, multi-year investment programme will deliver vital financial assistance and is supplemented by an emphasis on community volunteers pitching in and contributing themselves.
A ‘Pitching In’ volunteering scheme will be established to help strengthen community ties, with clubs also having the opportunity to apply for grants to ease the financial strain of lockdown.
The news comes as a timely pre-season boost for Stratford Town, whose new Pitching In Southern Premier Central campaign begins on September 19 at home to Kings Langley.
“Community is at the heart of non-League football, so the Pitching In partnership is a perfect fit for us,” said Pitching In Southern League vice-chairman Anthony Hughes.
“GVC’s commitment to grassroots sport is clear from their previous work and this investment shows huge belief in the importance of grassroots sport.”
GVC is launching a new multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports and is being launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues – collectively known as The Trident Leagues. For more information, visit https://gvc-plc.com/PitchingIn.