November 18, 2008
The Football League Trust has been set up over recent months to oversee Community and Youth development activities at all Championship, League 1 and League 2 Football League clubs. The Trust is responsible and accountable to The League for managing funding strategies in both these important areas of work. Contributions from the Premier League are very significant and amount to £5.4 million towards Youth Development and a further £4 million for Community programmes operated by the Community Trusts at each club. The title of Community Trust has taken over from the former Football in the Community.
The four main themes of The Football League Trust are in line with the funding bodies available to Football League clubs. The themes are very worthy and comprise health, sports participation by young people, education and social inclusion coupled with community cohesion. The four themes are given total support by the Board at Bristol Rovers as indeed they are at League clubs around the country and in all regions.
Funding is very vital to our operation and the quest to attract sponsorship for as varied range of projects in our community is ongoing. Over the past weeks and months Peter Aitken and myself, for just one example, have been working very closely with the Princes Trust and a local Young Offenders Prison on an engagement project that targets a reduction in re offending and makes a positive contribution to all of the themes listed by The Football League Trust.
The programme at the Prison takes place over a three week period this month and the main engagement tool includes the Level One coaching qualification. Child protection and first aid are also main ingredients in the programme. Rovers former under 18’s coach Tony Rickets, now manager at Weston Super Mare, is working with us on the theory side of the coaching qualification. Sixteen young offending students between 16 and 18 years of age are participating. The work follows on from a very successful project which has been completed at Plymouth Argyle. The project in South Devon was also funded by the Princes Trust and we thank them very much for their initiative and collaboration.
The funding through The Football League Trust provides for the basic level of our funding. The Trust has decided that the fairest way of allocating the funding is by way of a grading structure which in essence is based on fit for purpose and quality standards. The Trust has set out a clearly defined set of standards at each of three funding levels starting at bonze and working through silver to gold.
The criterion set against the standards is required by The Trust and the main funding partners of the Trust. The partners are the Professional Footballers Association as well as the Premier League. This partnership with The Football League represents another example of the very good work that the PFA does in the community. The criteria are used to measure so that the Trust can verify that the money is being used for its intended purpose. In addition The Trust will also be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the funding and be in a position to make a stronger case for increased funding levels in the future.
The need for openness and clarity in all financial matters is seen as crucial as is the move by the clubs community programmes becoming their own charitable trusts. We agree with the openness and at Bristol Rovers we have been a Trust in our own right for a considerable time. Ron Craig and I serve as Directors of the Trust with Ron taking the role as chairman and me acting as secretary. Ron has been very close to our community and education work for a very good number of years and there is much to thank him for his valued experience and continuing contribution.
So the process begins. We are targeting the end of January for the submission for Bronze. The main tasks for Peter and I are the compiling of a business plan and putting all the documentation in place to satisfy the requirements of a Human Resources Policy. There are sixteen criteria in total, some quite straight forward and others will require a tidy bit of work. We have until the end of June next year and if we don’t achieve the standard we will no longer be funded by The Football League Trust.; no pressure there then! A Community Trust unsuccessful in gaining the bronze award must wait for three months before they can re apply for assessment. In truth we will be working away towards the Silver accreditation to benefit for the extra funding that comes with it. The gold level will be some way along the road for the vast majority of clubs.