£500,000 funding confirmed for replacing 3G sports pitches at Galashiels

Funding of almost £500,000 has now been confirmed for resurfacing two 3G sports pitches at Netherdale in Galashiels.

By Darin Hutson
Friday, 25th March 2022, 1:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 8:04 am
The main 3G pitch at Netherdale in use (Photo: Live Borders)
The main 3G pitch at Netherdale in use (Photo: Live Borders)

One is the 116m x 72m main pitch used by Scottish Lowland Football League side Gala Fairydean Rovers but also suitable for hosting rugby matches and the other is a nearby five-a-side football pitch measuring 36m x 18m.

Both were installed 10 years ago and are now at the end of their lifespans, prompting efforts to secure money to pay for their replacement.

The UK Government is footing £200,000 of the bill as part of its £230m levelling-up initiative to tackle health inequalities and increase uptake of sport.

Scottish Borders Council is stepping in with £198,000, as agreed in principle earlier this month by its executive committee, after learning that an application to the Scottish Football Association for a grant to cover that share of the bill had been rejected, though it will be the SFA that delivers the Westminster government’s funding.

That intercession was triggered by a binding agreement signed by Netherdale’s management committee a decade ago stating that if the cost of renewing the pitches were to be in excess of £200,000, the council would be responsible for any additional costs.

The Galashiels-based Hayward Sanderson Trust is chipping in the remaining £100,000 required.

This week’s confirmation of funding for the resurfacing project has been welcomed by Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.

“It is so important to invest in grass-roots facilities and I am absolutely delighted to see the UK Government investing directly in resurfacing the pitches at Netherdale,” he said.

“Gala Fairydean Rovers and the facilities at Netherdale are real assets for the community.

“This refurbishment will make sure they can deliver for boys and girls playing sport for years to come.

“It is great to see the UK Government and Scottish Borders Council working well together once again to deliver for local residents.”

Galashiels councillor Euan Jardine, the authority’s executive member for wellbeing, sport and culture, said: “Netherdale is well known as the home of sport within Galashiels and sits beside Heriot-Watt University and Borders College, so it is great to see the UK Government investing directly in Galashiels and helping to level up the country.

“This investment comes on top of the £1.3m from the UK’s community renewal fund announced last year.

“Sporting icons such as John Collins, Gregor Townsend and Chris Paterson learned their trade on the grounds of Netherdale.

“This investment will ensure that we can provide opportunities for others to follow in their footsteps whilst also increasing opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the benefits of outdoor sporting activity.

"The 3G pitch might be just a pitch to some but to many it’s a home and place where memories are made that last a lifetime.”

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell added: “Our goal in Scotland is to harness the power of football, with the positive physical and mental wellbeing benefits that football offers being perfect examples of this.

“This funding will open opportunities for increased participation across many different demographics, including boys and girls’ football and para-football disciplines, some of which will be in areas that currently suffer from severe deprivation.”Ripping up the 3G surfaces and putting turf down again was considered but ruled out because of the estimated cost of up to £800,000.

The renewal of the pitches is being accompanied by a £1.45m overhaul of the Peter Womersley-designed main stand expected to be completed this summer.

The replacement of the 3G surfaces is set to be carried out in the summer after Rovers’ league campaign concludes.

The Netherdale pitches generate income of £70,000 a year, it was reported to the council’s executive committee at the start of the month.