GVC Holdings has launched a new ‘multi-million pound investment programme’ which will deliver financial support to grassroot sports organisations.
The programme, Pitching In, will be launched with a flagship partnership with The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues – collectively known as The Trident Leagues – which make-up levels seven and eight of the English football league pyramid.
Commenting on the launch of Pitching In and the Trident Leagues partnership, Shay Segev, CEO of GVC Holdings said: “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.”
As part of the agreement, each of the leagues will take the Pitching In title and will gain a much needed financial boost from GVC. In addition, 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 highlighted that in line with its decision made in 2019 to halt sponsorship of football in the UK, 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.
England footballing legend Stuart Pearce will also act as the official Pitching In ambassador after entering into a new partnership with GVC.
The former defender, who has 78 caps for England, famously played with non-league Wealdstone FC for over five years, before going on to play for Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United, Manchester City and West Ham United.
Pearce added: “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.”
In a joint statement, the three leagues – Nick Robinson (chairman, Isthmian), Mark Harris (chairman, Northern Premier) and Anthony Hughes (vice chairman, Southern League) warmly welcomed their new partners: “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.”