Eden District Council approves £100k grant to help secure future of Penrith Association Football Club

Penrith Association Football Club is set to receive a £100,000 grant from Eden District Council to help secure its future in the community.

Revenue difficulties, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic, have left the club struggling to operate and maintain Frenchfield Park, resulting in the deterioration of parts of the Council-owned stadium.

At a recent Eden District Council meeting, it was agreed that £100,000 would be granted to Penrith AFC, so that it can invest in infrastructure, address immediate capital maintenance issues, secure match-funding for other grants to improve infrastructure, and support the Club to be more financially sustainable overall.

In addition, the Council’s lease with the Football Club was also amended. Previously standing at £4,000 a year for a term of 25 years, the stadium lease has now been reset to 30 years on a peppercorn basis. It is felt that this would have a small impact on the Council’s annual revenue position, whilst substantially improving the Club’s ability to continue and expand its positive contribution in the community.

As part of this revised agreement, the Club is required to pay special attention to their community engagement and development activity.

Councillor Lissie Sharp, Communities Portfolio Holder at Eden District Council, said:

"Grassroots clubs are the back bones of our communities. They address a need that the private sector leisure industry does not.

"Grassroots football is where we find our stars of the future. It also provides an open and inclusive arena where children and young people can grow and develop, where people of all ages can come together and improve their health and well-being.

"I see this as a really positive contribution to not only further support the development and sustainability of the Penrith Association Football Club, but to invest in one of our assets to ensure ongoing service provision and to create and develop healthy and sustainable community places that are state of the art, fit for purpose, affordable and accessible for everyone."

Penrith AFC Chairman, Billy Williams, said: "I'd like to pay tribute to the Eden Councillors that made the decision to award Penrith AFC this generous grant. This money will help bring stability to the club and enable it to continue being an integral part of the DNA of Eden, as it has been for 127 years.

"With this award comes the responsibility of ensuring the maximum benefit, both for the club and the wider community. Since relocating, we have grown a large volunteer base as we seek to give young people in Eden an opportunity to be the best they can be. Together with Eden District Council, we now have the opportunity to carry this important work forward for future generations."

It's hoped that the modification of the lease and the grant funding will help secure the sustainability of an important local institution, one that makes an important contribution to the social and economic fabric of the town and the wider district.