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Community schemes net £600k from EFL and Sky Bet

Communities across England and Wales are to benefit from more than £ 600,000 worth of funding under the first set of grants awarded by the new Sky Bet EFL Building Foundations Fund.

Vital financial support will flow to projects linked to more than 60 EFL clubs, ranging from programmes to tackle isolation and loneliness, to improving fitness and mental health, increasing participation in sports or to invest in better football facilities for the local area.

The Building Foundations Fund was launched last year with Sky Bet committing to invest a bumper £6m over six years as part of its record title partner extension with the EFL. A panel including talkSPORT Breakfast Show host and Sky Bet ambassador Jeff Stelling assess the bids.

To kick-start the fund in 2023-2024, each EFL Club Community Organisation (CCOs) was given access to an initial £10,000 to invest in ongoing programmes or to develop new community initiatives.

Under the awards announced today, Leeds United will put more funding into its ‘Social Goals’ programme to tackle isolation among the over 50s, Morecambe will purchase equipment to run health and fitness sessions for local communities and Wycombe Wanderers will finance a Level 1 coaching course aimed at upskilling and reintegrating prisoners from Aylesbury Prison back into society.

Securing the funding will enable Sunderland to continue its ‘Wear Together’ project designed to increase levels of activity in over 55s, meanwhile Crewe Alexandra will increase weekly football sessions hosted at the club for East European migrants and Africa asylum seekers.

Debbie Cook, EFL Director of Community, said: “The funding provided from Sky Bet not only enhances the outstanding work already undertaken by our Clubs in the community, but creates a legacy that will last for years to come.

“This commitment from Sky Bet shines a light on the breadth and depth of the work football is involved in across all of our communities and tells the powerful stories of the local community members who benefit from these initiatives and programmes.”

At the launch of the Fund in November, former Leicester City, Liverpool and England star Emile Heskey joined EFL chair Rick Parry to highlight the success of a walking football programme in Barnsley.

Blackburn Rovers were the first to receive its £10,000 and has put it towards a ‘Remember the Rovers’ programme which holds weekly sessions at Ewood Park to bring people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia together. Club icon Tony Parkes, a former player and manager, is a regular at the sessions.

Dan Colton, Managing Director of Sky Bet, said: “You only have to see the success of the programmes like ‘Remember the Rovers’ in Blackburn to realise the impact the Building Foundation Fund has and will continue to have over the coming years.

“We’re incredibly proud of the Building Foundation Fund and our work with the clubs across the EFL to breathe new life into the community projects they run.”

The EFL and Sky Bet agreed a record extension last year that saw the sports betting brand continue as the League title partner unti the end of the 2028-2029 season.

First agreed in 2013, the partnership represents one of the longest and most significant in professional sport. The partnership is built around safer gambling and delivering joint objectives in a socially responsible way

Sky News
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