Football League and Premier League founders Aston Villa have become the first English top-flight side to back Sheffield FC’s ‘Home of Football’ crowdfunding campaign.
The Villans’ donation of £1,874 – the club’s foundation date in GBP – marks the first time a Premier League side has backed the campaign to take Sheffield FC, the world’s first football club, back to their original home ground.
Villa said on their website: “Aston Villa is delighted to lead the way in becoming the first Premier League club to back Sheffield FC’s fundraising initiative.
“The Club wanted to help Sheffield FC in their quest to return to their spiritual home – Olive Grove. Sheffield FC are asking all top-flight clubs to donate their founding number – and we’re happy to hand over £1,874 to help.”
The Club currently plays its home games at the Coach and Horses Ground Dronfield, Derbyshire but hopes to raise £150,000 ‘seed capital’ in order to return to Olive Grove Sports Ground, which it vacated in 1862, five years after its formation.
Sheffield FC, the great-grandfather of the game of football, was formed in 1857 by pioneers Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest.
The club is recognised by FIFA as the world’s first, and its founders are credited with contributing significantly to writing the rules under which football is played today.
The so-called “Sheffield Rules” played a key role in the formation of the FA and involved in a host of innovations such as the first crossbar, the first corner kick, the first free kick, the first throw-in and the first floodlit match, all at Olive Grove. In 2004 FIFA awarded Sheffield FC its highest honour – the FIFA Order of Merit – in recognition of its place in history as the world’s first club.
Upon raising the initial funds, Club then aim to raise a total of £5 million in order to develop the Olive Grove site, including the construction of a main stand and a ‘Home of Football’ museum.
Villa’s notion in donating to Club follows support from international clubs such as Borussia Dortmund of Germany, FC St. Gallen of Switzerland and PEC Zwolle of Holland, as well as the German Bundesliga and one of England’s newest clubs, FC United of Manchester.
The campaign has also garnered support from the organisers of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, who last week also donated £100,000 directly to Club’s Community Foundation, which will be invested into the development of the women’s section of Sheffield FC.
Richard Tims, chairman of Sheffield FC, said: “We are very happy and proud to have Aston Villa take the lead on our campaign and to be the first Premier League club supporting our move back home.
“We are positive that other clubs in the UK will follow the example of the Villa and join our mission to protect and promote the heritage of the beautiful game.”
For more information about the fundraising campaign go to www.theworldsfirst.org and to donate to the project visit http://igg.me/at/homeoffootball.