North East footballing institution, Wallsend Boys Club, have kicked off their first full season with their new, state of the art, 3G pitch and facilities, now lockdown restrictions have lifted.
Both players and staff had been itching for a safe return to Kirkley Park, on Tyneside, after last season was cut short by the onset of coronavirus in March.
But the Football Association recently confirmed that grassroots football could restart – a welcome boost for the legendary amateur club famous for producing some of the region’s top professionals, including Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Michael Carrick and Steve Bruce.
Now the club is excited to be back developing successful local talent from its modern facilities, which comprise grass pitches and the new floodlit, all-weather 3G pitch.
The latest 3G facilities have been made possible thanks to investment of over £300,000 from Wallsend Boys Club and a grant of £564,799 from the Premier League, The FA and the Government through the Football Foundation.
Wallsend Boys Club were supported in the delivery of the new facilities by long-standing legal advisers Muckle LLP, whose sports, charities, commercial property and finance lawyers advised on the development.
Steve Dale, Wallsend Boys Club chairman, said: “The last few months have been difficult for everyone, but the safety of our people and players has always been the number one priority.
“Now we are immensely excited about getting back to the business of working with young people in the community with these sensationally improved facilities.
“It’s given the club a huge boost, and over the next five years the new pitch will support the recruitment of more than 300 new players across 21 teams and has already helped us significantly increase the number of our girls and women’s teams and allowed us to deliver disability football.”
Fundraising for the next phase of the project is also now underway. The club has so far raised over 40% of the £1m needed to develop a community hub above the existing changing facilities and create an open-access sports club for the Tyneside community.
“The club has always been about more than football,” adds Mr Dale. “It’s about the community and giving young people confidence, skills and ambition that will help them to be successful in whatever career they choose in later life.
“We will continue to deliver on these principles as we seek £1m funding to build a community hub above our changing rooms for our next phase that we call ‘Sporting Wallsend’.
“We are very grateful to all the people who have supported this development, the fund raisers, trustees and committee members and sponsors. We also appreciate the excellent legal support we have consistently received from Muckle LLP, whose advice has continued to play an important part in helping us to continue to realise our club’s goals and ambitions.”
John Devine, partner and head of sports law at Muckle, added: “It is fantastic to see grassroots sport starting-up again and we are delighted that Muckle have been able to help the club achieve this latest milestone.
“This is a really well run club that plays a vital role within its community and that is precisely why they have been so successful over the years, helping young boys and girls to fulfil their true potential. Representative teams have continued to remain strong at all levels, from under 7s through to veterans over 40s.
“While it’s great that the club has produced elite and professional footballers, with many having gone on to play at the very highest level, the core values it instils in its members from a young age are clear for all to see. These are the essence of the club and something which anyone can use, whatever they choose to do in life.
“Having acted for Wallsend Boys Club for over 20 years, it is great to see them making full use of their new facilities, which I am sure will help them to become even more successful in the years to come.”
Muckle LLP’s sports and charities advice was supported with commercial property advice from senior associate John Kellet, while banking partner Kevin Maloney advised on the finance elements.
John Devine and Muckle LLP have a longstanding relationship with Wallsend Boys Club , initially supporting their incorporation and relocation to Kirkley Park, built on the site of three holes of the former Wallsend Golf Club.
In 2015 the law firm helped the club secure substantial sums of money due as part of FIFA’s solidarity contribution mechanism, designed to compensate clubs who trained players between the ages of 12 and 23, who then went on to play for professional clubs.