“On balance paying £50-£60k per year on an operating lease represented better value than paying upfront costs of around £270k - £300k…and the income generated from pitch rental offsets the repayments”
David Maine, Director of Estates and Facilities, White Horse Foundation
A high-quality artificial sports pitch can support 50 – 70 hours of play per week, regardless of the weather. This can improve player and team performance, motivate students in their academic studies, and enhance wellbeing programs. Outside of school hours there is a strong rental market with many artificial pitches generating significant revenue for schools.
Using leasing to fund a pitch can reduce the budgetary impact of asset investment by spreading payments over a number of years rather than paying for the pitch outright.
Finance leases are regarded as credit arrangements for capital finance. As such they are classed as borrowing and require Secretary of State authorisation for academies and maintained schools.
Academies and maintained schools should therefore seek an operating lease for new sports pitches. Sports pitch operating leases typically run over five years and are available for both resurfacing and new construction products.
A good leasing provider will allow the school to define the pitch specifications and select a preferred contractor allowing the school to build a pitch that meets their exact requirements.
Finance leasing may be an option for independent schools but schools must check their constitution, or memorandum and articles of association, (whichever is appropriate) to check if they are able to borrow. It is worth noting that not all charities have the power to borrow.
S&C Slatter are experts in the design, planning, and construction of artificial sports pitches. We are experienced in working with schools who are funding pitches through operating leases.
If you’re planning to resurface an existing pitch, or construct a new one, please contact us for advice, guidance, or a free consultation.
The Education & Skills Funding Agency has published detailed information and good practice in academy trust financial management which includes: Leasing guidance for academy trusts.
The Department for Education offers guidance on best practice and practical suggestions on how to find the best value for money agreements here: Leasing and subscription services for school equipment.