Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew, together with players Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse, were at the Walker Activity Dome this afternoon to present a cheque to councillors Veronica Dunn and Gerald Bell on behalf of the Premier League to enable further improvements to be made to the Dome.
A joint bid for funding by the council's Leisure Services and Newcastle United Foundation has secured a grant of £338,819 from the newly established Premier League Community Facility Fund to pay for another round of improvements.
A revamped sports centre in the city's East End has been transformed into a state-of-the-art soccer centre following a £2.5m investment by Newcastle City Council.
The impressive £2.5m redevelopment now boasts ten five-a-side pitches, three seven-a-side pitches and one 11-a-side pitch, while the inside offers attractive new changing facilities, a players' lounge, café and bar. The changes also include an upgrade to the function suite, an activity studio and indoor cycling studio as well as an impressive free weights area which offers the latest resistance equipment.
The money will go towards further physical improvements to the main hall, including new lighting and new playing surface as well as accessible changing facilities, and will help to fund a football development programme in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation - helping to increase sports participation in the Walker area.
The Premier League Community Facility Fund (PLCFF), funded by the Premier League and delivered by the Football Foundation, is investing £18m over three years to develop new or refurbished sports facilities for local people across the country. The Fund is open to all football club community-led organisations from the Premier League, Football League, and Football Conference, including the Conference North and South Divisions.
United manager Alan Pardew said: "This is a tremendous boost for our Foundation and the Walker Activity Dome and we are very grateful indeed to the Premier League and Football Foundation. Facilities such as this mean our Foundation can do so much more in the region, and you never know, maybe unearth the Premier League Stars of tomorrow!"
Veronica Dunn added: "Grassroots football has always been very important to the people of Walker. We have a reputation for developing professional footballers from a very young age through a number of successful local clubs and this grant is yet another cause for celebration in a community that is clearly football-daft.
"We now have the perfect platform to build on the recent improvements to the centre, by working in partnership with Newcastle United to provide opportunities for budding footballers and by increasing the number of local people taking part in sport."
Neil Winskill, Football Development Manager at Newcastle United Foundation said; "We run a whole host of programmes at the Dome, for all ages and abilities, ranging from three year olds up to adults. It is paramount that we offer first-rate facilities for participants and coaches to develop their skills in the right environment. The facilities at Walker are now second to none and I would encourage everyone to come along and get involved"
Richard Scudamore, Premier League Chief Executive, said: "The Premier League Community Facility Fund is all about providing sports facilities that reinvigorate local communities. The overall £18m of funding, which is available to 160 clubs across six tiers of English football, is investment that will have a lasting impact.
"The community of Walker is one of the first to benefit from the PLCFF. Once again, Newcastle United is placing itself at the heart of their local community and using football to make a positive social difference."
It is proposed that the construction work involved should be delivered by the council's development partner Aura as an extension of their existing contract, which included the original refurbishment of the centre and the construction of the new Central Walker CofE Primary School on a neighbouring plot of land.
Work is anticipated to be completed by January 2013.