Tough financial times for grassroots football?

Every penny counts for grassroots football clubs at the moment

When one of the UK’s most successful grassroots football teams is struggling financially, it makes one wonder how every other grassroots club is getting on.

Senrab FC have a rich history for producing talent – Jermaine Defoe, Ledley King and Ray Wilkins all played for the club – but the East London club were on the brink of financial collapse last month before being saved by their most famous old boy, England captain John Terry.

But of course not every club can call on a professional footballer to come to their rescue, which raises the question of how many other teams are close to folding.

Whilst a game of football costs next to nothing to play – just a ball and some jumpers for goalposts – running a club can cost a small fortune.

Pitch hire, changing rooms, registration fees, referee fees, coaching courses, CRB checks, transport, fines… the list goes on.

None of these costs are coming down in the current climate, which means that many clubs have to either increase subs for players or raise club funds via sponsorship or fundraising.

How are your club coping financially?

Here at Club Website, we’re interested to know how your club is doing in the current financial climate. Have your outgoing costs gone up in the last year or two?

If so, how are you coping with the increase?  Are all costs met by club fees and fundraising or do you get help from sponsors and/or council grants?

Does Senrab’s financial plight sound familiar? Are you worried about the future for your club? Do you know any other clubs struggling to survive because of a lack of funds?

We want to hear from you on this important issue for the grassroots game, so please leave your comments below.

Dan Pope on LinkedinDan Pope on Twitter
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.

Take the hassle out of organising your sports team with Teamer. Organise, communicate and take payments.


  1. Jason MacDonald on May 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Fees are a huge issue for any sunday league or grass roots side.

    for the most part we have no problem with it but there have been occasions where people havent paid. we are toughening up on this and operating a no pay/no play system for next season where players cannot play for us until training hire and match hire fees are all paid.

    We have managed to find a cheaper home ground and save ourselves £44 a season from next term. Also, as Club manager and Chairman i have put some of my own money into the club as an interest free loan and will be taking the money back by instalments.

    we arent flush, but we want the club to move into an FA affiliated league and compete with teams from a full saturday side, sunday side (our current team), Womens teams, Reserves and youth sides.. this will take years of planning and clever financial management…

    we have a sponsor but they gave us £500 worth of kit for free, we dont feel asking them for funds is right, especially as we have a home and away kit now.

    I feel it is actually easier to find funding and bring money into a club then it was only 3 or 4 years ago. We dont want hand outs, we want to make money for the club through match fees, donations and player registrations only replacing equipment when its completely worn out!

    As long as we can afford our pitches and associated competition fees we are happy.

  2. G. Moore on May 7, 2011 at 11:54 am

    The issue we have at our club is not only the struggle to raise funds through sponsorship but also the FA insistance on hitting players with fines that most adults would have trouble paying.

    Are club is of thr youth catagory and as we know the 17/18 year olds are the most demanding to manager/officiate due to them going through the most important period of there lives.
    We feel most referee’s we have come across this season do not use common sense when dealing with lads of this age which then brings the FA’s discipline (Fine Department) into the mix.

    For one instance we had a lad sent of for swearing at his own player in a cup semi final which resulted in the player getting £25 fine and ther club a £50 fine for misconduct for having the gall to question the ref.
    The same ref in another game sent away a fan from one of are games for questioning his decision not too award a penalty that also resulted in a £50 fine for the club as we were hit with a misconduct charge.
    A 16 year old player from our club had a fine this season for £185 as he was found guilty of kicking a ball in the direction of a referee (From 50 yards away).
    The FA have on there forms plea for leniency but it is never shown.
    In the case of the player being sent of for swearing at his own player we pleaded guilty because the incident did happen but we asked for leniency and the wish for common sence to prevail. And as you can guess neither happend
    Whatever the FA say to arguee against it is clear they are a money making machine.
    Were does the fine money go ? Were does the affiliation money go ?
    They certainly dont put what they receive back into grassroots football in my opinion.
    The facilitys are verypoor for your average saturday/sunday league side.
    You cannot get a Council run home ground as they block book them out to leagues so that rules out the chepest option for a pitch.
    So then as a club we have to look all over the city we live in to find a ground to play on and private run pitches are at least £900 a season as we found out during the run up to the last season.

    We have run our club this season without any funds from Sponsor,Grants or any handouts.
    And to our lads credit we took the league title at the first time of asking.
    Clubs like ourselves should be applauded for sticking at it in these difficult times which are finacially tough for us all.
    What we need most is to see the respect campaign the FA promote being applied from themselves to players/clubs like ourselves when dealing with instances of obvious poor refeereing.
    I think a lot of clubs would agree with me that decisions certain ref’s make that then bring fines to your club should be looked at properly by the FA and not just dismissed without proper consideration.
    The need for personal hearing were they slap you with more costs just to argue your corner is another instance of hitting your pockets for money we just dont have.

  3. Andy Ingle on May 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Ladies senior football Team

    After 7 seasons this has to be the toughest time to attract interest for any form of sponsership we were luck for three years with a good sponser and myself putting money into the club.Now with the current climate as it is sponsership has been withdrawn its a difficult time. I can no longer afford to fund the club so we are tightning our belts and just getting by through player subscriptions. our club doesnt charge to use the pitch because we go into the club after games it generates to the leisure side and club facilities are excellant.

    Getting serious interest in the womens game is hard.. our football is as good as the mens, so as long as fees are paid we can play and thats what its all about…

  4. Beverley Aldridge on May 11, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Our club has two ladies sides and a number of youth sides. The senior footbal is ever more expensive and difficult to sustain. We pay over £50.00 per pitch from the Council, as most of our players are at university or college the players themselves can find it difficult to raise the money to cover match fees, referees and their assistants, insurance, affilitation, registration the lsit goes on and on. Sponsorship and grants are difficult to find and I can see the situation only getting worse in the short term. It is a real problem for us!

  5. john kerr on May 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I actually had to pull my team out of the club I was in last season because I couldn’t afford their fees.
    The clubs name was Rubery Juniors in Birmingham. They wanted money all the time without giving anything back. I had to pay fees for the 12 month period and also find money for winter indoor training, equipment, ect. They provided no training fascillities.
    I have now started as an independant team, Kintyre Rangers, and are prospering as a lone commodity.

  6. Dawleylad on May 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

    In my local league the cost of a council pitch is about £35, add the referees costs and you are needing to pay upto £5 per game. For a young footballer, perhaps at college or Uni, these costs are too high, especially adding on the transport costs of getting to the game, it’s no wonder Clubs like Senrab are struggling.


  7. Jonathan Strevens on August 10, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Rubery Juniors(as mentioned above) are a huge club with arguably the highest running cost of any amateur junior football club.We recently had to build our own new clubhouse totalling £200,ooo because the FA not would help us in any way as we were not considered a desperate club.Our subs that the children pay are cheaper than any other club I know and this is achievable by having a mass of teams(20+).Within these subscriptions all fees including trophies and presentations are covered for the season allowing managers to concentrate on the football side.Unfortunately the manager commenting above barely paid in any subs and never attended a single monthly meeting.I don’t even know what he looks like and I am the Vice Chairman.

  8. Matt on August 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I feel I’m quite lucky as the club my 7 year old son plays for is extremely well run. They charge £115 per season and this covers registration, kit, training facilities, pitches and end of year trophies for each player! But some teams we play against have awful facilities and even worse pitches.

    I’ve previously commented on another post that I feel there should be some kind of initiative set up where premiership teams sponser their local grass roots teams or leagues with regular funding. If they gave each grass roots league funding for each season, it could be used to pay for pitch hire (or improvement), registration fees for players and refs fees. It would then allow local teams to either lower the fees they ask player/parents to pay or pump the money back into the club which can be used to pay for kits, equiptment and even coaching fees.

    The premier league generates billions in profits and nearly every player is already a millionaire (or will be by the time they’re 25). All of these players started at grass roots level and I feel there is a moral responsibility for them to put something back into the game that has made them financially secure for the rest of their life!

  9. matthew ritchie on August 20, 2011 at 9:54 am

    As usual the fat cats get richer while the poor gets poorer.Most clubs are struggling to keep afloat,but somehow or otherthe top premiership clubs are still prepared to pay ridiculous wages and i think the fact that some of these players were getting more money per week than the whole BLACKPOOL team were getting says it all.
    I think it is time to call a halt to this situation,Players management and football authorities need to step back and rectify this situation before everything collapses and we find our premier league left with only the top 5 or 6 clubs able to continue to compete.

Join the discussion