FA bosses face cash scramble

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FOOTBALL chiefs are determined to close a £700,000 black hole that has appeared in plans for a prestige football and community project in Sheffield.

Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, which manages the sport for 120,000 people across South Yorkshire, are seeking funds for a new £3.7m base on the former Westfield school, Mosborough. They will know in six weeks whether the bulk of the grants will be made available.

But their original plans were rocked by a shortfall discovered in the last few months, The Star can exclusively reveal. “We are £700,000 short as things stand,” says James Hope-Gill, Chief Executive of the local FA. “Three years ago when we started putting things together we did not expect this. It is a concern. It was caused by what’s happened to the economy. Where as we might have got a £1m grant from one body, for instance, now grants are being capped by half that.

“But we are very confident we will be sending the diggers in to start the job in October and will have a new base by the start of the 2013-14 season. The potential for this development and what it will mean to the region is phenomenal.”

Sheffield FA is about to sell their current base in Kelham Island and are confident they can obtain loans at attractive rates if necessary.

The hub will be used not just for football, but as community centre to engineer social programmes for adults and kids, influencing areas like health, nutrition and crime reduction.

FA national chairman David Bernstein is a fan of the idea, after visiting the site two months ago. “Cuts in local authorities’ budgets means that sport has suffered,” he says. “At a time like this, the Westfield project is needed as a facility, not only for football but for society in general.”