PITCHES in the borough are being rejuvenated thanks to £100,000 support from the Football Foundation.

Among them are Sutton Lane playing fields in Middlewich, which is benefitting from the deployment of a fleet of tractors and specialist maintenance equipment – such as aerators and rollers – as well as a robot line marker which removes the need for string and line marking, reducing labour costs and improving accuracy.

Investment has been made by Cheshire East Council, the Premier League, the Football Association and the government’s Football Foundation, giving five of the borough’s sports pitches a new lease of life, creating much improved surfaces, resilience and better drainage.

The foundation's £100,000 matches £100,000 invested by the council, which has enabled Ansa, the council’s environmental services company, to buy the new tractors and equipment.

While the new maintenance programme began in time for last season, it is expected that drier weather this summer will enable the ground maintenance team to use the equipment to its full advantage.

The council has even 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 is the UK’s largest sports charity and exists to improve the experience of playing football for everyone, by championing fair access to quality facilities.

Councillor Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council chairman of environment and communities, said: “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.”

Playing fields benefitting from the new maintenance programme are:

● Sutton Lane, Middlewich, King George V, Crewe ● Jim Evison, Wilmslow ● Mary Dendy, Great Warford ● Back Lane, Congleton

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, Football Foundation chief executive, said: “This is great news for the 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.”