The Programme

GVC’s Pitching In is a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports. The programme launches at a time when football clubs and sporting organisations are facing the unprecedented impact on their finances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched in September 2020 by the GVC Global Foundation the multi-million-pound, multi-year, investment programme kicked-off  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.

Pitching In Trident Leagues

The Trident Leagues, which trace their roots back to the nineteenth century, are at the heart of the national game, with 226 clubs (rising to 240 Clubs in 2021) and 15,000 players registered across the three leagues in the many villages, towns, and cities of England and Wales, bridging the gap between the professional and recreational football worlds.

The partnership, which sees each of the leagues take the Pitching In title, will deliver vitally needed financial support, as the leagues seek to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown, which saw the null and voiding of the 2019-20 season. In addition to financial support, a key focus of the partnership is to facilitate and encourage community volunteers to do some pitching in of their own, and contribute their time and effort. A Pitching In volunteering scheme will be established to link UK based GVC colleagues with their local clubs to further strengthen community ties.

Pitching In Ambassador

England footballing legend Stuart Pearce is returning to his non-league footballing roots and has been signed up by GVC as the official Pitching In Ambassador.

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 and West Ham United. He has now teamed up with GVC to lend his support to Pitching In.

Perspectives on Pitching In

Stuart Pearce, Pitching In Ambassador

“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.”

Shay Segev, CEO of GVC Holdings

“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.”

Nick Robinson (Chairman, Isthmian), Mark Harris (Chairman, Northern Premier) and Anthony Hughes (Vice Chairman, Southern League)

“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.”

Tom Kerridge, Marlow FC fan and Michelin-starred chef:

“Pitching In is a great title. The aim is to help people to do something; volunteer, be a steward, turn up to the games, be a part of the club. Be more immersed in it and do what you can to help.”

The Pitching In Isthmian League

The Pitching In Northern Premier League

The Pitching In Southern League

Pitching In and Responsibility

In line with the decision taken by GVC in 2019, to unilaterally pull-out of 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.

Where GVC will contribute its expertise to deliver extensive educational programmes on responsible gambling and sports integrity to all of the leagues’ clubs.

The Trident Leagues

The Pitching In Isthmian League
  • The Isthmian League was founded in 1905 and covers London, the East and South East of England with 82 Clubs across 4 divisions at Steps 3 and 4 of the FA National League System
  • There are 22 clubs in the Isthmian Premiership and the champions of the 2018/2019 season were Dorking Wanderers
  • Worthing were in first position when the 2019/20 season was terminated on 26 March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; however, they were not officially recognised as champions
The Pitching In Northern Premier League
  • The Northern Premier League was founded in 1968 and covers all Northern England and the northern/central areas of the Midlands.
  • There are 61 clubs across the Premier Division (Division One North West and Division One South East which make up the Northern Premier League
  • The Premier Division champions for the 2018/19 season were Farsley Celtic with South Shields top of the league when the 2019/20 season was terminated on 26th March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic
The Pitching In Southern League
  • The Southern League was founded in 1894 and covers the Midlands and South of England and Wales
  • There are 84 clubs which are divided into four divisions; Premier Division Central, Premier Division South, Division One Central and Division One South
  • The Premier Division central champions for the 2018/19 season were Kettering Town with Weymouth champions of the Premier Division South. Peterborough Sports were top of the Central Premier and Truro City top of the South Premier when the 2019/20 season was terminated on 26th March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic

Pitching In,  SportsAid and Future Projects

Following the launch of the Pitching In Investment Programme the Group’s highly successful existing multi-year collaboration with SportsAid will become an important part of Pitching In.  Launched in 2019, via its partnership with SportsAid, GVC supports 50 aspiring athletes a year across England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

  • Notable beneficiaries of GVC’s partnership in 2019/20 include archer Eleanor Piper, rifle shooter Ruth Mwandumba, track and field star Joel Clarke-Khan, para table tennis player Craig Allen and wheelchair basketball talent Ross Davidson
  • A total of 12 recipients of support in 2019 have continued on the programme with GVC in 2020
  • July saw Cheyanne Evans-Gray join the 2020 cohort, the sprinter, who competes for Croydon Harriers and set a new British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championships record over 60m this year, balances training with a job at one of GVC’s Ladbrokes betting shops in Croydon
  • The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE

Further details on future projects will be made in the coming weeks and months and updated on this page.