At 3pm on Thursday 24th June the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, paid a visit to the newly opened facility Gunnersbury Park Sports Hub, nominated by the Football Foundation as a flagship venue for the latest government investment in grassroots sports facilities. The purpose of the visit was primarily for the Chancellor meet with CEO of the Football Association Mark Bullingham and CEO of the Football Foundation, Robert Sullivan, to discuss the next stage of Hub (Park Life Football Facilities) program , showcasing Gunnersbury Park as an example of a beneficiary of the £25m in Year 1’s budget. £4m was put in by the Football Foundation into the Gunnersbury project, of the total circa £14m for the entire facility.
As part of the 2019 election, a total of £550m was pledged by the Government into grassroots facilities across the country. The Prime Minister positioned this investment at the centre of plans to back a UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup. This transformation of the grassroots football landscape would be the centrepiece of our Bid, and an authentic ambition that will be welcomed by FIFA.
After the initial meeting between the Mr Sunak, Mark Bullingham and Robert Sullivan in the Park View Suite of the Sports Hub, the Chancellor was a given a brief tour of the facilities by Simon Sen (Regional Director) and Alexandra Norris (Assistant Manager) at the Sports Hub, who led Mr Sunak to downstairs the Sports Hall to view and help set up a disability football session that was taking place, run by key funding partner to the Sports Hub, Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust (BFCCST). The chancellor had an opportunity to meet and speak to the coaches and participants and helped put out cones for some training drills that they were doing during the session.
The Chancellor was then led out to the Artificial Grass Pitches by the Football Foundation where he was met outside by newly promoted Brentford FC first team midfielder, Josh DaSilva as well as CEO of the Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust. The chancellor observed and helped with a few set ups for an all-girls school football session, also run by BFCCST, to showcase the impact the facilities has on local schools and communities.
The Chancellors visit was a success and he was audibly impressed and complimentary of the facilities and the staff at the site: He said; “We are working with the FA, the Premier League and with local authorities to build these more hub-oriented models and you can see what a fantastic facility it is.