WHEN goalkeeper Fraser Forster made the switch from Celtic to Southampton in 2015, his transfer attracted a fee of £10m, as the giant shot stopper was very much in demand having recently been capped by England.

The Tyne Valley beamed with pride at a local lad done well, none more so than his former club Stocksfield FC.

As an extra sweetener, the club which operates from Stocksfield Cricket Club was celebrating the move when a bumper £100,000 windfall came its way with thanks to a recently introduced FIFA ruling.

As part of FIFA’s solidarity ruling, five per cent of the transfer fee when a player makes an international transfer is set aside by the buying club to be shared by each club he was registered with between the ages of 12 and 23. Forster started his football at Stocksfield, being converted from a central defender to a goalkeeper during his four years with the Griffins.

But the windfall was a once in a blue moon occurrence for grass roots football teams which need to largely self fund to stay afloat.

Phil Murray, the club secretary at Stocksfield and also the coach of the U16 team, said he counted the club as extremely lucky to have benefited from such a rare ruling.

He said: “Funding is one of the biggest challenges grass roots football clubs face.

“We have been dead lucky to get the windfall from Fraser Forster’s sale. Before then, we had £600 in the bank for around 13 teams and you are living month to month, season to season. We are very mindful that the money can quickly disappear for increased running costs, and we are ensuring the pot doesn’t get swallowed up by that.

“How do you survive with costs increasing all the time? One option would be to hike up the membership fees and get parents and members to pay more, the affiliation fees, the coaching qualifications, the DBS checks, etc.

“We acknowledge these are the right things to have in place but they all cost money, and we as a club can’t expect a volunteer to fork all that money out themselves when they are already paying fees.”

Such are the struggles for local footballers, an initiative called GiveToLocal was launched recently in Tyneside which aims to plough £5m per year into grass roots sport through sponsorship and donations.

The reality is that while there’s billions of pounds pumped into the professional game, funding opportunities at a non-league and junior level are few and far between.

Murray said: “I see no initiatives from Premier League clubs passing their money into the community.

“I haven’t seen any money trickling down to the kids at a grass roots level.

“Something fundamental needs to change to get any big money from the Premier League down to a local level, and it’s going to need one or two clubs to lead the way. How lovely would it be for a big club to be seen helping out local juniors when funding is so tricky?”

While improvements seem to be on the cards in Tynedale, there is still the impression that the district gets overlooked when it comes to funding.

Prudhoe Youth Club FC will soon benefit from a major development which will include a purpose-built pavilion and one full-size pitch and two junior pitches at the former Eastwoods Middle School site. The town of Hexham has been crying out for artificial pitches for years and that dream will become a reality when pitches will be provided for use by the community as part of an £36m development to build two new schools.