The Premier League is to financially assist more than 1,000 football clubs looking to reopen their stadiums following the COVID-19 pandemic through the launch of a new Matchday Support Fund.

Clubs from the National League System, Welsh Premier League and Women’s Pyramid can apply for assistance, which includes grants to install contactless payments and new ticketing systems.

In a statement, the Premier League said the new Matchday Support Fund will help clubs to put measures in place that will make grounds safer for the 2020/21 season, given the additional risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement follows the recent publication of Government and FA guidelines for the return of football and spectators at this level.

In total, 65 leagues and more than 1,100 clubs will be able to benefit from the financial support, with the application window open until September 16.

“We hope this will help more than 1,000 men’s and women’s teams across different leagues get matchday ready and safely welcome fans back into grounds,” said Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive.

“As football matches across the country begin to resume, the safety of everyone remains of paramount importance.

“I’m pleased that, beyond our existing support to the wider game, the Premier League is able to offer this additional funding via our Football Stadia Improvement Fund.”

Grants can help clubs make the physical infrastructure changes required to reopen their stadiums in line with the latest guidance. This includes conducting risk assessments, and implementing measures, such as reducing capacity and creating capacity for socially distanced movement.

Grants can also be used to help ensure supporters’ safe travel to and from stadiums, as well as their attendance at matches, and the implementation of NHS Track and Trace measures. This could include the purchase of contactless payment technology, installation of hand-sanitisation points and implementing advanced ticketing systems.

The grants will be managed by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), which is financed by the Premier League and supports non-League and women’s football pyramid clubs with the cost of improvements to their grounds.

This announcement follows the recent provision of the Pitch Preparation Fund and the Club Preparation Fund, where £8.7m in grants from the Premier League, the FA and Government’s Football Foundation was awarded to prepare the country’s playing surfaces and facilities for the return of football.

“The much-anticipated return to action for non-league, women’s and Welsh Premier League clubs is welcome news,” said Robert Sullivan, the FSIF’s interim chief executive. “It’s important it’s also a safe return, so this is another welcome helping hand from the Premier League towards achieving that.”

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