Facilities not up to scratch for half of British footballers

How good are the facilities that you use before and after football matches?

How good are the facilities that you use before and after football matches?

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 givingBroken window 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.

Football Foundation logoThe 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

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, with a passion for grassroots sport. A right back turned football writer, Dan is the former editor of Club Website and has been lucky enough to work in the field of grassroots and community sport for the last 10 years.

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  1. Terry Vincent on August 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I couldn’t agree more!

    Although our pitch is adequate, our changing facilities are horrible. I sometimes feel that I have to wipe my feet when stepping out of our showers!

    The problem is, I guess you pay for what you get. Our club hasn’t got that much money so we have to compromise somewhere?!

  2. craig pace on August 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I coach an u10 team that play at a site that has 4 mini pitches and 5 full size pitches. Every sunday this site is fully used so imagine how many players aged from 7 to 16 there are along with supporters. Unbelievable but this site has no changing rooms and not even a toilet. The council won’t even consider any action to change this even after we have asked. What a disgrace!

  3. Mark Lyons on August 7, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    The Showers at our ground work but when you have to share 3 showers with 6 teams every game and they dont just have us using them there are teams on and off during the whole weekend and the showers can become a total disgrace. The changing rooms themselves are so small teams have players in the corridor trying to listen to the managers tactics… so am guessing so does the opposition.

    The council dont want anything to do with it so the league have to fork out more and more money each year to pay for it. Then its the clubs who take the cost with increased signing on fees! Just plain ridiculous.

  4. david malone on August 8, 2009 at 9:39 am

    We run a local village club called New Fordley Juniors. Although we run 8 different sides we were knocked back from all football grants because the site we want only has 1 pitch, even though we play on about 4 different pitches. The changing rooms at the site with 1 pitch has been condemed due to asbestos in them so we have no changing facilities at all no toilet, no shower and nowhere to leave our kits. We have tried the local council and even though all other areas seem to be looked after they will not help us.

  5. Susan Albrighton on August 11, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Changing facilities are compulsory in female football, but there is only 1 pitch in our area that has any and this pitch is shared with local mens and boys teams. Any facilities is better than no facilities.

  6. Alistair McMurdo on August 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I’m one of the many frustrated coaches up here in Scotland. We hear so much from our Governments that they are trying to help the youth of today to get fit. We have 28 teams in our club ranging from 7 year olds to Amatuer Level. As in most clubs we are all volunteer coaches and finding this to be an increasingly more difficult thing to do as the Local Councils in there wisdom over price all their facilities.

    Granted we are fotunate that we have quite a number of 3G parks but they are very highly priced by the PPP sector for small children to hire, also it becomes a fight amongst rival clubs for these lets as it rains 6 months of the year in Scotland in turn making the grass parks unavailable to play.

    What is the answer? Does anyone have a solution? I would love to hear from them.

  7. Ken Brown on September 8, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    We are an FA Charter Development Club with teams ranging from under 8s to Seniors male and female. We play our matches on sub-standard Council pitches which consist of 1 Mini Soccer pitch for 4 teams, 1 Junior pitch for 5 teams, and a Senior pitch for 4 teams.We are not alowed to train on the pitches in case we make them worse and the pitch fees have just been increased by the Council yet again, almost cripling the club financialy. There are 2 changing rooms for junior use and 4 changing rooms for the seniors. Come on Council and Government get your fingers out to help grassroots football.

  8. Henry Willard on September 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    We don’t even have changing rooms!! Our on-site changing rooms were burnt down a week before our first ever game since we formed in 2007, & we now have to walk 5 minutes up the road to use the local Secondary School’s two changing rooms, sharing with 2 other teams, excluding the away teams! Only one of the changing rooms has a toilet, & the hassle is absolutely ridiculous. We are crying out for funding for some new changing rooms at our pitch!!!


  9. Dorothy Eason on November 23, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Biggest problem for many clubs is refusal for planning permission. The Government could give special direction to councils to allow for some development e.g. floodlights and stands, within reason, for non-league clubs or our young men will have no facilities to enable them to play at their appropriate level. There is no point in Leagues applying restrictions which are unobtainable as they are now focussing on facilities rather than attainment in football.

  10. Dorothy Eason on November 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    The problem with grant awarding bodies is that you have to have some money before they will give you anything – somewhat defeats the object. Rich clubs get richer, poor clubs get poorer. There are two classes in football – the haves and the have nots – and the have nots will continue to be the have nots.Trouble is the have nots are most of our football population and our young people will continue to be bored underachievers who can’t keep fit even if they want to. It seems to me that it is the young male who suffers most in this as children and women are targetted for funds – which is good – but what about our young men? What is the point in targetting floodlights when the rest of the clubs are falling to pieces and electricity prices are at an all time high. What about global warming and turning our lights off? Or does that only refer to domestic households?
    The FA needs to be more realstic in its demands and changing rooms and other comfort facilities should be considered important.

  11. MSB on December 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    there is no joined up thinking with grassroots football, you have to go through so many bodies to get anything done, local council district council county council, local fa, sport england, football foundation, lottery and so many more – the amount of red tape you have to get through would drive anyone mad – the majority of people running football clubs are volunteers with day jobs to do as well as running the club, there is no help from any of the above to get through the red tape minefield, you need money to get things done, but you can’t get any money until what you want the money for it done – a visicious circle. My club runs on a shoestring we have 8 age groups- 6 -16, approx 175 players and play in 4 different venues ranging from no faciliites to limited poor facilities – the local fa is not interested in helping us find our own ground, the council puts so many obsticles and costs in the way when you do find somewhere it all just gets so frustrating

  12. Jonathan Rowley on December 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    We’ve been fighting for funds from any source for 2 years now and our Football Pavilion for 7 to 11 years olds still has no roof, floor coverings or changing facilities.

    It’s a disgrace – we know what needs doing, have the quotes and through a mixtures of Local government inefficiencies and lack of funding we are unable to finish them.

    We’ve applied to the local FA, the Local Council, The Football Foundation and even applied to the Lottery 3 times only to be turned down and fought a local charity for supprot who sit on £600k for local projects.

    It makes my blood boil – HELP!!

    Vice Chairman – AAJFC

  13. Jonathan Rowley on December 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I have just read some of the other posts and wanted to comment further – our local pitch is maintained by the Council and is not really fit for purpose.

    It is often waterlogged and has no markings to support junior football or multiple pitches. Again we’ve tried to get support from the Powers to be only to draw a blank time and time again.

    We again are volunteers, and I made it my business for several months jumping through all the hoops I could possibly find.

    Our Council has been sitting on 106 funds for 3 years and still can’t get round to releasing them.
    I could write a book on the subject and have used the local press to highlight our cause locally.

    Again – all to no avail, until someone really get’s stuck in to untangle the red tape and local government and applications, funds matching and everything else we will continue with poor underdeveloped facilities that are a disgrace.

    It’s simple – someone needs to get the cheque book out and write a few to the Grassroots clubs and divert some of the millions it away from Sky and Premier league footballers.

    Anyone is welcome to see our facilities, just take a look at alderleyathleticjfc.co.uk or come down.

    Just watch the lightbulb that’s hanging from a wire though as you come in!

  14. Steve Stennett on December 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    It is a sad reality that football pitches today are in a disgusting state of repair. Far too many clubs are playing on sub standard pitches with sub standard facilities, some without facilities at all especially those that are council ran. You cannot just blame the FA, The County FA are just to blame but our very own local community must take their share of the blame, they know our young people and children use the pitches but still they allow their dogs to use them as toilet areas without picking up after them, local youths who probably play on those very same pitches leave broken bottles, empty beer cans after a night out, far tooo many people have no regard for property that does not belong them, by ripping down goals, filling in corner post holes, and generally digging up pitches, we bring much of this on ourselves, we allow it to happen – its no good blaming everyone else when we need to look at those closer to home. For me the answer is use more School facilities, they are always under lock and key, looked after by paid workforce & after all they are a Community focal point, how many Primary School and Scondarey schools are there with either mini or full size pitches. More money should be spent on the new 3g all weather pitches and competitive games for children’s and young people’s football should be allowed on them, this would eliviate the pressure on our grassed pitches, and although many of the new 3g pitches that have been provided by the Football Foundation/County FA/Local Coucils are being destroyed by the very people who use them – it is the society and environment we are living in one of NO RESPECT for themselves, anything or indeed anyone.

  15. Gary on August 8, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I’ve been making this point for years now and nothing seems to happen. The problem is that in the UK, there are very few actual clubs. A club to me has an address and not just a pub, where you meet before a match, but a club house, where the players, youth and senior, can get changed and have a nice hot shower after the match. A place where tac-tics can be discussed and a function room for get togethers and partys. All this may sound crazy to most brits, but where I live and coach, namely in Germany this os oh so very normal. Every single poxy little village has at least one club, with an address, a club house, with all facilities and flood lit pitches. The difference is that here in Germany, they’re not football clubs, but sports clubs, i.e. tennis, judo, athletics, table tennis, football, all under one name. Our problem in the UK is, we have too many so called clubs in one village, ten or so, so called clubs and not one address, not one club with its own ground. Simple answer is, they should all swallow their pride and all become one, also getting all other sports involved and become a sports club, creating a football, a swimming, a tennis, an athletics and a table tennis department, all within the one club. This way, you’d have far more voices and a much bigger case for council backing. The argument then being, the fact that you are getting thousands of kids off the streets. Sites like these need promoting, you need to make the country aware that the UK is so very far behind the rest of Europe.

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