Guide for Clubs at Step 7 looking to move to Step 6
** For the 2020/21 Season the FA are expecting that 40 Step 7 clubs across the country will be promoted to Step 6 **
Current ruling is that only 1 side in any Step 7 league can be promoted to Step 6 each season (other than Step 7 leagues that link directly into a Step 6 league such as the South Midlands League). In order to be considered for promotion clubs need to be in a position to achieve a H Grade on their ground by March 31st of the current season and a G grade by March 31st of the season following their promotion. The exception is Floodlights which need to be installed by September 30th and so after life at Step 6 will have already begun.
You will need the following by March 31st in the season in which you apply: -
Covered Standing for 50 spectators
Hard Standing on at least 2 sides, a minimum of 0.9 metres wide
A 1.1 metre high Pitch Barrier on any side that spectators can view the game from set at least 3 metres from the pitch for new builds
A permanent boundary fence at least 1.83 metres high
A pay box or revolving turnstile with protection for the operator
Your pitch has to be a minimum of 100 metres long by 64 metres wide
You need 2 x dug outs to accommodate 8 people, set 3 metres apart as a minimum
Minimum of 12 square metre dressing rooms with 4 shower heads and a WC and wash basin (18 metres for new builds)
Changing room for Officials has to be at least 4 square metres (6 metres for a new build) and with shower, WC and wash basin as well as provision for female officials
At least 1 person who has completed a suitable medical course, such as the FA Emergency Aid Course
A safe and secure walkway to the pitch
A room to entertain visiting officials
By September 30th of the season you are promoted
Floodlights to an average lux reading of at least 120 (200 for a new installation since May 2017) with the lowest reading at least 25% of the highest reading. New in 2019 was that all readings start 2.5 metres in from the touchline
By March 31st of the season you are promoted
Covered Seating for 50 spectators
Please note that this is a guide only and you should contact your local grading officer for clarity and further information
Are you’re a club governed by a constitution, a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) or a company limited by guarantee or share. CASC is very good to have, but also very demanding in terms of your commitment to the guidelines you need to adhere to. Being limited by share has advantages regarding liability etc. but more clubs appear to be going down the route of a company limited by guarantee and this appears to sit well with fund raising organisations. You need to consider becoming registered for VAT which is of value whilst you are carrying out ground development, but you need to remember that most of your income will then become Vatable. If your turnover is over £82k you will have to register in any case if a limited company.
Security of Tenure
For the football club to gain access to funding you either need to have the freehold or leasehold on the ground for at least 10 years. To gain promotion you only need this for a maximum 2 year period. The Football Foundation may accept you being named in a headline lease with guaranteed usage. If the club folds within 10 years they have the right to demand proportionate repayment of any grant.
Will naturally be required for Floodlights and the Stands or other permanent structures if over 2 metres in height
Football Foundation is the most used route. You can only raise £20k as a Step 7 club, but £100k if looking to move to Step 6. You only have to come in the top 5 now of your league to be eligible for promotion to Step 6, though only 1 team per Step 7 league can go up per season. You would be able to obtain 70% of the cost of the project. At Step 5 & above the amount claimable is now also 70% of the total project cost. You also can’t start any work until the grant is awarded and have to spend the money yourselves and claim it back which naturally presents a cash flow challenge. A guide to what the Football Stadia Improvement Fund will and won’t cover is here
Sport England would be another option and have a number of funds available, such as Inspired Facilities for up to £50k. Demonstrating wider benefit to the community would be advantageous and match funding is a plus.
Wren (Waste Recycling Environment) can offer between £15k & £75k (though not for Buildings work) and is for people close to landfill sites
SITA Trust - their Enhancing Communities Programme is for clubs that are situated around waste processing sites. They have a number of schemes for not-for-profit organisations.
Queen Elizabeth 2 Fields Challenge - this was set up post Olympics and you have to play on a Queen Elizabeth 2 designated field. You can apply at q2fields.com for your local council to designate one for you
Shared Access have £30m to spend on new or replacement floodlights in return for you erecting a phone mast – naturally the bigger the requirement for a phone mast in your area the greater your chances
FA National Sports Centre Trust could provide up to £10k through your County FA
Biffa can provide between £5k & £50k with 10% of total cost required from 3rd parties – your site needs to be within 10 miles of a Biffa operation
What can Sports Ground Development do to help?
1. We can provide a quotation for any element of the development from our own in-house product range or via our national network of contractors where we have negotiated competitive rates
2. We can manage the tender process on your behalf, obtaining a minimum of 3 quotes from our database of leading providers, and can also utilise local contractors as required. In this respect we would be acting on a consultancy & project management basis to avoid a conflict of interest
3. We can prepare, submit & manage the Planning Application to your local authority or provide appropriate drawings as required
4. We can prepare, submit and manage your funding application to the Football Foundation
All of our developments are made with reference to the 6th Edition Green Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds
The full grading document can be downloaded from the FA at