WORLD Cup stars, trophy success, and promotion glory – there certainly is a football buzz around Hampshire.
Now Southampton aims to harness the football feel-good factor by bidding for crucial funding to boost the game at grassroots level.
Sport England is inviting applications for City of Football funding – up to £1.6m that will be used to encourage more people playing all forms of the grassroots game.
The cash would be welcomed by local teams after cuts in funding facilities for grass roots football.
In 2012, the Daily Echo revealed less money is being spent on football pitches as part of city council budget cuts.
An investigation found some pitches are covered with holes and dog mess had to be picked up by teams before games got under way.
But the authority insisted it did not affect the way pitches were maintained or the number of ground staff.
A consortium consisting of Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University, Southampton FC, and amateur football clubs, is set to submit an expression of interest this week.
The city’s consortium faces competition from Portsmouth, which has also submitted an expression of interest.
Sport England will assess the bids and, if successful, Southampton’s bid will be placed on a shortlist of three or four bidders.
Only one city in the country will be allocated the funding.
Sport England says cities with significant strength in the 14-25 age group and with a population of 200,000 people will be preferred.
Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts: “If this is a success it would be brilliant as it would mean £1.6m goes into grassroots football in the city.
“It builds on the success of Sholing, Southampton, the announcement of internationals in the England squad, and Eastleigh’s promotion.”
He added: “The money would go into both the private sector and the public sector, which will see the improvement of changing rooms and pitches.”
Roy Dawson, chairman of the City of Southampton Football League, said facilities and pitches in the city are due an upgrade following cuts.
He said: “We hear from teams that are not happy with some of the facilities that haven’t changed for years and years.
“Dressing rooms are still poor. Back when I played, some of the dressing rooms are still the same.
“But this money will very much be a boost. Sunday football is losing ground and a lot of that is due to the cost of facilities.”