Half of Britain’s footballers are putting up with sub-standard facilities, a Club Website poll can reveal.
28 percent of respondents described the facilities – changing rooms, showers etc – used before and after their football matches each week as ‘terrible’, whilst 22 percent said theirs were ‘poor’.
That’s 50 percent in total. One in two people from a sample of almost 6,000 from across the UK football community? That's a pretty damning statistic.
Well over a million people play football in Britain every week during the football season, making it by far the most popular team sport to play in the country.
Football lovers across the UK turn out week in, week out throughout the season, yet the facilities that await them when they arrive at their venue leave a lot to be desired.
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Shabby changing rooms, no locks on the doors, leaking roofs, peeling paintwork, broken windows… sound familiar? You’d be unlucky to come across all of these at once, but it’s not unheard of!
Then, after giving it everything for 90 minutes, if you’re lucky enough to have showers that work, you may well find that the water’s cold or the drains are blocked.
If this sounds like this is a depressingly familiar story, then it will come as scant consolation that at least you’re not in the minority.
To make matters worse, a further 23 percent of respondents could only describe their facilities as ‘OK’, meaning less than a third of people had positive things to say, describing them as ‘good’ (13%) or ‘excellent’ (14%).
So, is it time for governments and various governing bodies in the UK to finally stand up and take notice? Surely we should not have to put up with substandard facilities?
There are, of course, organisations already out there distributing money in the form of grants throughout the game.
In the eight years since their launch, the Football Foundation - the UK's largest sports charity, funded jointly by the FA, Premier League and Government - has provided some £340 million worth of grants to football projects across in England to improve facilities, build communities and get more people playing football.
The work of the Foundation is to be admired but, when you consider that £340m would get you just four Cristiano Ronaldos and enough small change to pay John Terry’s wages for a couple of years, it shows how far out of whack football’s finances are at the moment.
The Premier League is alive and kicking but the lack of cash filtering down from the top end of the game means the game beneath it - and the grassroots in particular - is suffering.
It’s a different story in Wales and Scotland as far as finances are concerned, although the outlook is no better. Organisations such as Sportscotland and the Sports Council for Wales help the FAs by distributing grants - albeit on a smaller basis to the Football Foundation - but, with little money at any level of football in both countries, purse strings are currently being tightened throughout the game.
So the organisations are there but, after decades of under-investment, do they have the money to make a real difference today? What’s more, how many people involved in grassroots football know where to go for assistance when they need financial support?
So many questions and, for now, not enough answers.
Dan Pope, Club Website editor
Tell us what you think!
Club Website will be digging deeper into this issue over the coming weeks, so we want to hear from you! What are the facilities like that your football team use? Is the picture painted above all too familiar?
Have you ever - successfully or otherwise - applied for a grant to help you out? Do you know where to go to get financial help? What do you think needs to change within the game to get our facilities up to scratch?
Get it off your chest! Have your say in our comments section below.
Club Website poll result:
On average, how good are the facilities that you use before & after football matches each week (changing rooms, showers etc.)?
- Terrible 27.6%
- OK 22.8%
- Poor 21.8%
- Excellent 14.0%
- Good 13.8%
Total votes cast: 5,728