[E]den District Council’s Executive last night (20 April 2017) agreed to help fund the reinstatement of the football pitch at Frenchfield Park Stadium in Penrith to resolve maintenance issues. The District Council leases the ground to Penrith Association Football Club (PAFC), who are responsible for the upkeep of the pitch.
The Executive agreed to potentially make available £18,500 to fund the works from revenue balances, as currently PAFC is unable to fund such a project and asked the Council to assist with the works. These costs could be reduced if a grant application to the Football Foundation Pitch Improvement Scheme is successful, which could fund 50% of the costs (£9,250).
Eden District Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, Matthew Neal, said: “The proposals agreed by the Council’s Executive provide an interim resolution to the immediate issues regarding the Stadium. To ensure the long-term effective maintenance of the pitch, the Council will consider procuring the annual closed season re-instatement works with the costs being recharged to PAFC. The Club and Council can now work together to ensure an annual agreed maintenance plan is carried out.
“The Council will also work with the Club to review its governance arrangements and look at its financial viability. We hope these measures can assist the Club to establish a solid foundation for their future at the Frenchfield Park Stadium.”
The Institute of Groundmanship (IOG) and the Cumberland Football Association (CFA) were both contacted to provide advice on how the pitch should be maintained. An inspection of the soil conditions has taken place, which confirmed that the pitch drainage system is constructed to the correct specification and is working well.
However the soil which sits above the drainage system has become compacted over the years as a result of not being maintained by PAFC in accordance with the maintenance schedule originally issued. This is accepted by the Club. The immediate top surface has also deteriorated over time.
Significant refurbishment work is now required to the Stadium’s pitch during the closed season. Works need to commence in early May in order for the pitch to be available for pre-season friendlies and during the 2017/18 season.
The proposed refurbishment works as specified by the CFA and the IOG include:
- Stripping off the top surface
- Installing slit drains at right angles to the main drains
- Intensive Verti-draining (de-compacting the soil on the pitch to allow air in and improve drainage)
- Over seeding and fertilisation
As part of the proposal for the Council to undertake this major refurbishment work, PAFC has committed to:
- Allow under the lease for the Council to have access to the Stadium in order to undertake the works.
- Undertake day to day maintenance of the pitch, including the mowing of the grass, feeding, slitting, line marking etc. This is to be set out in a written agreement with PAFC.
- Work with the Council in order to investigate how best the Club can survive/thrive as part of the community.
- Allow ground maintenance work to be inspected by the IOG before the start of winter.