Consultancy for club's looking to improve their facilities and with aspirations to step up

Saturday 01st July 2017

Annette Buswell, the director of Step Up Sports Consultancy Limited, offers advice for ambitious football club’s looking to improve their facilities to win promotion.

Annette’s areas of specialism include sport strategy, playing fields and leases and sports development.

She held the role of Head of Sport & Recreation at the London Borough of Lewisham, latterly including the management and development of a number of leisure management contracts across the Borough.

During a career of over 30 years, she also has experience of arts development and has worked at a number of Regional Arts Associations.

A large number of sports facilities have been secured through Annette’s creative approach to secure funding from a range of sources.

These facilities have ranged from small outdoor play areas to school sports halls, as well as a number of multi-use games areas. She has also project managed facility builds and written a number of sport specific plans and sports strategy documents.

Towards the end of 2016, Step Up Sports was commissioned to find funding for – and project manage – a 100-seater covered stand at Ladywell Arena.

Ray Simpson, the chairman of Southern Counties East Football League First Division club Lewisham Borough, led on the project and had been working over a number of years to make the vision a reality.

“At Step Seven football clubs are required by The Football Association to provide playing facilities to a certain standard.  This is called ground grading and it is to ensure that all club’s can play the game within the same level of facilities throughout the League," says  Annette.

“There are some dedicated funds for ground grading via The Football Foundation, but increasingly other funding needs to be applied for.

“That’s how Step Up Sports Consultancy helps club’s, by applying successfully for match funding from other sources.

“In the year’s I have spent working with club’s there is a recurring pattern – and it’s fairly obvious why.

“I call it the ‘on pitch’ and ‘off pitch’ work.  Initially there is so much effort by players, coaches, boards and committee’s to just make that promotion, make those crucial end of season wins and literally everybody’s effort is put into that. Then it happens and big celebrations, justly deserved as the club is promoted to Step Seven, Six, Five and so on.

“It’s a great achievement and the ‘on pitch’ work starts again, preparing the team and pre-season friendlies.

“However, to tap into other sources of funding successfully and meet new ground grading levels, the ‘off pitch’ work comes into sharp focus.

“For example, funder Sport England has published a Code of Governance for all organisations requesting public investment. It expects high levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity. It’s a good and helpful document which helps club’s have a robust and stable infrastructure.

“Most of the key funding sources expect the same.

“In addition, many funds, who could be considered appropriate funders for football, will be working towards strategic aims, such as increasing the physical activity levels of local people, tackling social unrest, bringing communities together.

“So, a funding bid may well require not just an application, but a three-year business plan showing the governance of your club, a physical activity plan, a local needs assessment, a lease, a maintenance plan, bank account, statements. It will want evidence of how you run things and how you involve others.

“Again, having been involved in these areas for a long time, we can help you strengthen your ‘off pitch’ areas.

“I hope it doesn’t sound daunting because I’ve personally found working with local clubs to be a positive and exciting thing. You are doing your very best for your club members, your players and importantly for your younger generations just starting out.

“You probably don’t realise how much you are in fact already working towards those higher aims about health and social cohesion.

“Our job will be to listen to you and paint the picture for funders.  I’ve found that club’s embarking on investing in new facilities or activities also come to feel an increased sense of community identity.

“Many new networks and partners and support channels open up to them as they see and accept their enhanced role as a local resource.

“My background is I’ve been working in Sport & Leisure for over 25 years, with some very talented team members. I’ve built and developed many sports facilities and been very successful in achieving major and minor funding bids.

“I’ve project managed facility developments and worked with grassroots club’s throughout that time.  I’ve always had a good relationship with the Kent Football Association and key football organisations as well as many different Governing Bodies of Sport.

“George Davis is one of my excellent sports consultants, with so much local experience.

“I’m happy to meet and talk through your vision.  Lastly, I forgot to mention, No successful funding bid – NO FEE.”

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