Funding to improve Wilmslow sport pitches

Playing fields machinery 1

Outdoor sports pitches in Wilmslow are set for improvement as a result of funding from the Premier League, the Football Association and the government's Football Foundation along with funding from Cheshire East Council.

A £200,000 injection of funding has been used to buy a fleet of modern maintenance machinery, which will give five of the borough's sports pitches, including the Jim Evison playing fields on Altrincham Road; a new lease of life, creating improved surfaces and better drainage.

The council has also acquired a robotic line marker which should help remove any dispute around a ref's penalty decisions as the machine should ensure precision white lines!

Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity, has provided a grant of £100,000 to match the £100,000 invested by the council, enabling Ansa, the council's environmental services company, to buy new tractors and specialist maintenance equipment

Playing fields benefitting from the new maintenance programme are:

● King George V, Crewe;

● Back Lane, Congleton;

● Jim Evison, Wilmslow;

● Sutton Lane, Middlewich; and

● Mary Dendy, Great Warford.

Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council chair of environment and communities, said: "We are grateful to the Football Foundation, the FA and the Premier League for supporting us with this important project.

"Improving the quality and durability of our sports pitches is overdue and we hope that by offering better maintenance and a higher standard of facilities, this will encourage more people to take up sport and lead active lives."

The Football Foundation offered advice to Ansa maintenance staff on how to achieve a higher standard of playing surface, using the latest machinery and applying a tailored maintenance programme for each sports ground.

Robert Sullivan, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: "This is great news for the local community. This will support people's ability to play our national game locally and, therefore, help unlock soccer's many benefits to physical and mental wellbeing.

"We are committed to transforming the face of grassroots football facilities and it is therefore very welcome news to hear that this funding will support Cheshire East Council to develop the pitches at these five playing fields for their local communities."



Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Terry Roeves
Tuesday 1st June 2021 at 4:11 pm
Additional car parking and improved security to keep travellers from parking caravans there and littering will be most helpful. Both are easy and inexpensive.
This would really help my mental wellbeing. I will also be able to relax more without those disputed penalties!
This is an excellent initiative.
PS I still waiting to see anybody cycling on our newly installed route from the railway station towards AE.
Michael Thorley
Tuesday 1st June 2021 at 9:09 pm
At Terry must have missed me using it on Sunday. I would have used two other routes but there were cars parked on them!
Erik Garner
Wednesday 2nd June 2021 at 8:38 am
It’s a nice gesture but the money really should have been used to sort out the drainage at Jim Evison. Those pitches are hardly used during the winter because they are constantly waterlogged. All the teams that have them as home pitches have to rearrange most of their fixture to away ones where the pitches are cared for properly. They won’t be able to use the machinery in the winter because they’ll get bogged down in the mud.
They could have improved the changing rooms too. You wouldn’t let a child anywhere near them. There a disgrace.
A toilet wouldn’t go amiss either.
The children of Wilmslow deserve much better sports facilities than we have.
As far as I know, Wilmslow is the only town without a 4G Astro pitch. £200k would have been enough to build one and the whole town would benefit. The council would recoup their investment in a couple of years by letting it out.
Please spend money them Cheshire East!
Edith C Richards
Friday 4th June 2021 at 3:02 pm
In reply to Erik Garner - I welcome this investment into our local infrastructure but absolutely would never want to see this site covered in plastic (AstroTurf). Use the money to improve changing facilities and drainage but be warned of the creeping privatisation of public spaces that often accompanies these investments. Calling for an AstroTurf pitch to be installed and then for the council to recoup the money by letting the space out ignores (1) the fact that the fields have many uses and users; (2) not all users can pay and (3) it would exclude any other use than football.

Astroturf has been dubbed Chernobyl for worms and insects; turning a greenfield site into a plastic covered, dead, brownfield area. AstroTurf is being investigated as a cause of cancer in football players. (see links below). Significantly all AstroTurf pitches are installed with a surrounding fence – effectively annexing public green space (that can be accessed for free) and handing it over to be run by a private company. The private company will then charge between around £100 per hour to access the site for a limited range of organised sports and nothing else.

Wilmslow is not the only town without a 4G pitch as these surfaces are still being developed. Most existing artificial pitches in the UK are therefore not 4G. If you are desperate to play on an artificial pitch, please contact the booking manager at Wilmslow Phoenix Sports Club (location: Styal Road, Styal, Wilmslow, SK9 4HP) to use the existing facilities in our area. Of the 22 local (within 3 miles) football sites (found via, 9 of those sites already have artificial pitches. Many footballers do not use these facilities because they are too expensive. They require booking and planning, and are out of the price range of a group of teenagers just meeting for a kick-about or a parent wanting to play with their kids.

The children of Wilmslow already have access to many excellent sports facilities. Even the local state school has larger fields and better facilities than many of the actual sports centres in, for example, Manchester. I welcome any additional investment but would love to see this spending on football not preclude all other forms of sport or exercise.

I regularly walk the fields at Jim Evison and love to see the matches in progress. But the sports teams only use the fields for a couple of hours each week. These fields have lots of other users (human and animal) outside these times. It is important that any development of these fields does not exclude all other use. It is also important that it does not pave the way for the site to be re-designated as no longer greenfield, paving the way for further development in the future – because then everyone loses out, including the footballers.