Football fan Matt takes on year-long virtual challenge to visit every Premier League ground – all in the name of charity

Posted by james brindle | Published: 11/06/2021

A Central England Co-op colleague is continuing his support for the retailer’s charity partner Dementia UK by combining his love of football with his desire to raise funds for deserving causes.

Matt Haynes, who is part of the IT team based at Central England Co-op’s Lichfield headquarters, is currently embarking on a year-long, 670-mile challenge of running/walking/cycling between the 20 Premier League football stadiums (as of the season just finished).

The Aston Villa fan virtually set off from Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and will finish the challenge within the next 12 months with a final virtual stop at Newcastle’s St James’s Park.

The father-of-one said: “I enjoy taking on challenges for a good cause and since Central England Co-op has supported Dementia UK, I have aimed to do a fundraiser each year for them such as running the Fradley 10k.

“When the last lockdown came, I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I could do a charity event so I thought why not do an event that would take a year.

“I heard about how you could do a virtual trek around the 20 Premier League stadiums and as a football fan that really appealed. It sounded like a big challenge to take on which I wanted to do to encourage me to get off my backside and keep motivated.

“You can follow your progress on a map and compare with how other people are getting on so that really helps pushing me on and seeing how close I am to the next stadium is good fun.”

Matt is completing the challenge through a mix of walking, running and cycling, whether at home, at the gym or out and about.

With the challenges of the pandemic and of working at home with a young child, Matt said he found it important to get out and exercise for his mental health and wellbeing.

He said: “I love running and in a weird way I find it very therapeutic. I used to do the Park Run at Cannock Chase so have missed that over the last year as I really enjoyed that as it is just nice to have my music on and turn off and enjoy the beautiful scenery as I run.

“It can be tough on the treadmill to get motivated, so it is nice to get fresh air and get out. It is good for your mental health and wellbeing and working from home it is easy to get isolated, so this has been a blessing. Doing this challenge makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.”

To follow updates on Matt’s challenge and support him with a donation visit his Just Giving page at


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 7,800 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

Phone - 01543 421390

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