GVC has announced the launch of a new ‘multi-million pound’ investment programme ‘Pitching In’ which has been designed to support and promote grassroot sports.
The new programme has already signed its first grassroots partnership after striking an agreement with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, collectively known as The Trident Leagues.
Pitching In will be known as the official partner of the competitions, which make up levels seven and eight of the English football league pyramid, with the programme delivering ‘vitally needed financial support’. This will be a welcome boost to the tournament’s clubs with many facing financial difficulties due to the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown which null and voided The Trident Leagues’ 2019-20 season.
Shay Segev, CEO of GVC Holdings commented: “In a world where local and grassroots sports are under increasing financial pressure, we believe our Pitching In Investment Programme will play a pivotal role in supporting the next generation of British sporting heroes.
“Today’s partnership announcement with The Trident Leagues is a hugely positive step in this direction and underlines our commitment to support both grassroots sport, and the communities in which we operate.”
In addition to providing financial support, community volunteers will be encouraged to ‘do some pitching in of their own’, with a Pitching In volunteering scheme to be established to link UK-based GVC colleagues with their local clubs.
GVC has also highlighted that the Pitching In partnership will not promote any of the Group’s betting or gaming brands and no branding will be used at any of the leagues’ grounds. Instead, GVC will use independent consultants to deliver educational programmes on responsible gambling and sports integrity to all of the leagues’ clubs.
This is to remain in line with the firm’s decision made in 2019 to halt sponsorship of football in the UK.
In a joint statement, Nick Robinson (chairman, Isthmian), Mark Harris (chairman, Northern Premier) and Anthony Hughes (vice chairman, Southern League) stated: “Community is at the heart of non-league football, so the Pitching In partnership is a perfect fit for us. GVC’s commitment to grassroots sport is clear from their previous work, and this investment shows huge belief in the importance of grassroots sport.”
England footballing legend Stuart Pearce will also act as the official Pitching In ambassador after entering into a new partnership with GVC.
Pearce, who has 78 caps for England and famously played with non-league Wealdstone FC for over five years, commented: “I am delighted to be taking up the role of ambassador for Pitching In, as I’m passionate about the importance of investing in grassroots sports and in developing young talent. I started out playing for Wealdstone FC before joining Coventry City so I understand how important funding is to the non-league game.
“Grassroots football is facing huge challenges at the moment and many clubs are struggling to stay afloat. GVC’s Pitching In investment will help make a big difference to hundreds of clubs and thousands of players across the country.”