Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, and Everton defender Mason Holgate officially opened AFC Bentley’s new changing pavilion yesterday (Sunday 25 November 2018). The facility, which is set to transform the matchday experience for players and fans of the club, was made possible by investment from the Premier League, which has been delivered by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF).
The investment has allowed AFC Bentley, who play in the Central Midlands Black Dragon North Division at Step 7, to replace old, dilapidated portable cabins previously used as changing rooms with a new changing pavilion which includes shower facilities, toilets, a kitchen and hospitality area.
The project works form part of the club’s five-year development plan, with the aim of promotion to Step 6 football for the senior team. Additional aims include the development of Under-18 and Under-21 teams, enabling players from North Doncaster to join AFC Bentley at 4-years-old and play right the way through the age groups until retirement.
AFC Bentley currently operates 16 teams, including an Over 35’s side for veterans. Former players include the Everton and England Under-21 defender, Mason Holgate who was born in Doncaster and started at the club as a young player.
The new facilities will benefit all the players at AFC Bentley and the AFC Bentley Academy, whilst also supporting Doncaster & District Junior Sunday Football League for cup matches.
The project was made possible by a £50,000 grant from the Premier League, which is delivered through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund – the sister organisation of the Football Foundation.
Barrie Abbott, Chairman of AFC Bentley, said:
“The support of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund and the Premier League has helped us to build this fantastic new clubhouse. This is an exciting time for everyone involved at the club and I can’t wait for all our players and supporters to start using and enjoying our new facility.
“To see Mason here today is a great inspiration to all the young players we have at the club. Hopefully we will see more players come through our club and follow in Mason’s footsteps in the future.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “Premier League investment is being used to improve the infrastructure for lower-league clubs all over England, through the work of the FSIF. I’m glad to hear that AFC Bentley are the latest to benefit from this, with the opening of their new changing pavilion.
“It is vital that players and spectators at all levels of the game are able to enjoy safe, comfortable environments that only serve to encourage their love of the game – not damage it. I would like to place on record my thanks to Ed Miliband MP and Mason Holgate for officially opening the new changing pavilion at AFC Bentley and I wish everyone at the club all the very best for the future.”