FA launches new £150m facilities strategy

The Football Association has launched a new three-year plan to improve grassroots football facilities in England.

The National Facilities Strategy 2013-15 outlines plans for £150m of investment over the next three years, including improving 3,000 grass pitches, building 100 new artificial pitches and refurbishing 150 existing artificial pitches.

The strategy was developed after FA research found that “poor facilities” was the most pressing issue facing the grassroots game, with 84% of respondents raising the concern.

The FA’s 2011 Big Grassroots Football Survey found that regular participants want improved pitches (both grass and artificial), floodlighting, changing facilities and toilets, for both playing and training with their clubs.

In 2010, Club Website visited some of the country’s worst football facilities having found out that over half of the grassroots football community have to put up with sub-standard facilities on a regular basis.

The Football Foundation has invested over £780m in new and improved facilities since it formed in 2000, using money provided by the FA, Premier League and Government, via Sport England.

Whilst the £150m outlined in the new survey does not represent any new investment but a projection of existing funding over the next three years, the strategy aims to ensure all partners work together to improve football facilities and protect them for future generations.

Roger Burden, Chairman of the FA National Game Board, highlighted the significant investment in facilities made by the Football Foundation over the last 13 years, but conceded that a “huge amount of work” still lies ahead.

“Football has enjoyed a remarkable period of investment since the formation of the Football Foundation in 2000, with thousands of clubs and teams having benefited from this investment,” said Burden.

“However, it is clear that there is still a huge amount of work to be done.”

“Many of our top professional footballers started their careers playing on park pitches for local clubs within local leagues.

“Whether used by a young person taking those first steps in football or as a veteran player or as a coach, facilities have a lasting and continuing influence on our experience of the game.

“For this very reason, investment in facilities will continue to be a key priority for the Football Association.”

Alongside the key targets on improving and creating football pitches, the strategy also commits to “improved changing facilities and toilets” on selected sites and continuing the small grants scheme designed to help clubs with smaller facility requirements.

Upcoming changes to the structure of youth football – which will see new 5v5 and 9v9 formats phased in from the start of next season – will also be supported by the Facilities Strategy, which commits to providing “ongoing support with the purchase and replacement of goalposts”.

The Football Foundation is making available grants of 50% towards the total cost of goalposts for the new 9v9 format, with the next funding window opening next month.

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Whether you are looking to develop the next generation of footballing talent, or are one of the millions who play purely for the love of the game at the grassroots each week, facilities are the platform on which all of that takes place.

“With 84% of people citing ‘poor facilities’ as their most pressing issue, the grassroots game has made it abundantly clear where it thinks the priority for investment should be.

“Developing better, well-maintained facilities is the only way to ensure that we avoid the routine cancellation of fixtures due to flooding and poor weather and to ensure that football does not stop simply because it has got dark.

“The FA deserves real credit for engaging with clubs in the detailed way that it has and for setting out a clear plan to tackle the this issue in the National Facilities Strategy document that we are launching today.”

Click here to view the National Facilities Strategy 2013-15.

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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. Gary Taylor on February 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Sounds good in theory but will the usual suspects – that is councils play ball ?
    At the moment we can only access 9v9 pitches at a central venue which I think is unsatisfactory – they need to rolled out wherever possible

  2. Peter Edmondson on February 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    The weather is your enemy, the advancement of artificial surfaces will be a great help, but they still require a lot of looking after.

  3. Kenneth Allen on February 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Is it not wrong, that while the Premiership rolls in money, the lower divisions, and amateur football, is struggling to survive. Football is for everyone, not just the greedy players and teams in the Premiership. How can we justify paying players £200,00 a week, when amateurs are having to get changed in their cars. The FA will never take any actions as long as they are dipping their own hands into the premiership pot. Amateur football is dying, just look at the number of leagues that have disappeared, and what have the authoritied done – mothing.

  4. reece sinden on February 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    The initiative is a good idea in principle, but the true test will be if the funding is spent in the right areas and over time it will truly develop better facilities at a local level. Managing and coaching a youth side we like many other teams have lost so many games to bad weather, but this could be improved if we were to have better access to more artificial pitches allowing for less games to be cancelled.

    As they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating!!!

  5. Tom Hardman on February 28, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I agree that the game has to be supported from the bottom up with engageing the very young in team games and skills training. However if ta club folds becuase its basic facilities cannot be maintained then it cannot go to the next step. Keeping clubs going has to be a priority or they cannot go on and develop. An injection of cash to get the most basic of equipment is needen and now. Two many hoops to jump through puts people off. Two many demands to supply training for the young with immediate effect or no funding is not always possible. Give us the tools and we will do the rest, after all it is in our own interests to keep a constant supply of players on tap.

  6. Ian Barker on February 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Whilst it is great that the fa have given these funds for grass roots, I feel that by grass roots they mean large leagues in the inner cities and not the small leagues like the derwent valley junior league in derbyshire, I am sure that there are many other village leagues around the country that need finances but are not seeing a penny again. Come on fa make sure it goes where it is needed.

  7. steven waite on February 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I think grassroots football in the south wales valleys in the rhondda are non igsistant as in our local boys club field in treorchy there is no flood lights so no night games can be played the council have stopped putting up the nets so the clubs have to struggle with them rugby year has things where football loses out boys clubs are struggling and need a bit of help but its only what i think. regards s waite

  8. Jim Hogg on February 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    The main thing my club is looking for is finance to improve the dressing rooms. I have found it very difficult to get access to money allowing us to improve the dressing rooms. Would certainly like to know how some clubs manage to obtain grants(money).My club is an Open Age team and this seems to be the largest problem. Have a kids or ladies team and the problem of obtaing money seems to become much easier.

  9. Mike Thomas on February 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Like thousands of other club secretaries I am very glad to hear of the investment which i’ve read about in the article above….
    The reason i’m hopeful of ALL of the monies getting TO US is that we’ve gone thru one of the WORST WINTERS since 1963 & have had to put off football games as we havent been able to put in proper draineage or be able to afford to have pitches irrigated-ie spiked etc to allow the water to drain away…..& with games being called off we’ve lost valuable income & this made worse as we’ve had rent/rates come in & other forms of maintenance to be carried out….
    So although it was very good to see the F.A.s Burton stadia come to frutation its frustrating at grass roots to continualy tell players & club
    officials that games are off as people become irritated & get out of the habit of playing & get calls to be more involved in work,families and house chores etc…indeed in the Soton sat lge 4 clubs resigned over the 2 week Xmas break/
    period due to these problems…
    Therefore i hope plans to see this money coming thru are quick & not long winded to “get thru to us” and with existing schemes that are well intended but dont seem accessible to clubs & presumably end up in misc bank accs-NOT SOURCED by those persons who give up long hours-up & down the country-giving/getting much enjoyment laying on facilities to fans/players of ALL KINDS…Mike Thomas Sec Lyndhurst fc SO43 7AD

  10. Phil Nulty on February 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    My club needs about £10,000 per year to run successfully after all subs and reg fees. We have 24 teams from u5’s to open age. If each premier league had their team players sponsor a local team, it would make for a much smoother ride and better facilities and equipment. Each year we scrape together just enough for end of year medals and trophies, but it is hard. Many players come from single parent families and can’t afford any subs increase so this isn’t an option. We have over 350 kids using old worn out equipment and rely on local parish councils to let us use there land which they never cut. We feel a million miles away from the stars of the premier league that the kids look up to. They need to remember where they came from and give more back. I know a lot do, but many just take from an industry that is kind to thoughs at the top.

  11. Chris on March 1, 2013 at 12:09 am

    Yep I agree with Phil Nulty, it could make such a huge difference to our clubs

  12. Bill Wilkinson on March 1, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Sounds good but what will be the reality. Currently my club – Accrington Football and Sports Club, is fighting a 500% rent increase, back dated 3 years, imposed by Hyndburn Borough Council. This on a facility that we have manitained and repaired at our own cost for well over 50 years. Looks like it will soon be a memory.
    Bill Wilkinson – Unpaid Volunteer Ground Manager

  13. Phil Nulty on March 1, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I agree with Kenneth Allen 100%, its not the players fault in the premiership, as I would play for £250,000 if someone would pay me. We are never going to be an internationally dominant football team when you have some really outstanding players with strength and ability who get told they can’t have a competative match for 6 weeks because the pitches are ‘Waterlogged’.

    Every league should have a central meeting arena with a mix or 7, 9 and 11 aside pitches that can be used for a weekend of football. Floodlights, so matches can take place from morning to evening. Sometimes you KO early, sometimes later, just as long as every weekend there are pitches which are playable, Grass or 3G. How many times do you turn up to a match and there is dog dirt, branches, bottles etc… on a pitch that has grass 8″ long on a gradient you could ski down if it snowed. There wasn’t enough land to play on before 9 v 9, now its just rediculous. Even storage for all equipment is a nighmare. (Try storing 6 x large, 4 x 9v9 and 4 small sided goals) they don’t fit into a garden shed!

    Come on FA, Families want to watch their kids play football, (they can’t afford to go and watch it anymore!!)

    So much I have to say, so few ears who want to listen!!

  14. stephen todd on March 3, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Would like to get monies to help develop our teams but how easy is it to get it and how much red tape will there be!!!

  15. phil smith on March 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    this all sounds great but so far i have not read one word explaining how our clubs can get our hands on this cash to regenerate our facilities. ??????

  16. Steve Mulford on March 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Grassroots football which has, is and always be the bedrock of football in this country has largely been sold down the river by The FA and The Profesional game in general. Our Club East Hendred AFC are celebrating our Centenary this season and Wembley Stadium were the only people out of 16 approaches who would not provide a Prize for our draw, Tour Voucher for a family. Not even at a discount price. We have been after funding to improve our changing rooms and toilets and improve our clubhouse for years. Local Councils and authoritys couldnt care less. Have heard of these schemes many times in the past just hope that this is different. I suspect not!

  17. Paul on April 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Facility Improvement… of course… but its about money not more Powerpoint presentations and pie charts!

    As a volunteer in a Charter Standard Youth FC, I have been through 4 wasted, stressful, and disappointing years with regard to Football Foundation funding. If the ”person in charge” of Youth Football facilities and funding (who he?) wants to come and talk to me about it … I will gladly pass on a ‘real-world’ experience … be warned I have lots to say and lots for them to learn from on this subject so would need to set aside a few days…. (perhaps I’ll try a Powerpoint presentation?)

    In summary we wanted to build a pavilion facility and although I found the Football Foundation (FF) team fairly helpful, I did find them limited when ‘push came to shove’… their criteria as the ‘lender of last resort’ was impossible to work with, and alas, ultimately I found the FF to be a complete waste of our time. That is not intended as a slur on the individuals at all… but rather intended as a cautionary note that although the FF will meet with you, draw up plans, help with filling out the grant proposal… they wont necessarily make a commitment to partially fund up front (which means other potential grant sources get ”cold feet” !!).

    My own experience is not a happy one, and I have a dim experience of the FA/FF when it comes to this…

    Also pitches: I believe the FA and FF are under-resourced, lack necessary authority, and are woefully underfunded, to meet the national demands here.

    Its a much wider issue than Football… lots of houses have been built but the Infrastructure for Sport and Youth Clubs is not being built to match.

    Considering writing a book, no one would have to read it…. purely cathartic… just to divest myself of my pent up frustration.

    By the way… Sky Money in its 20th Year now… so glad that Football has spent all that money so well (how many average-ability football millionaires do we have? Anyone?….)

  18. Mike Thomas on June 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    In FEB we were told £150m was going into GRASS ROOTS FOOTBALL & from the many comments MOST PPL were concerned how this was going to be made available….esp
    after the winter we’ve ALL HAD & with the number of games that were put off due to the rain/snow…with Some games it would of been impossible to be played but its the ones that were marginable that we NEED HELP WITH ie HELP TO GET
    we have a chance when the sudden rain storms come in…mainly thurs/friday and
    with little time for us to work on them..so
    AS BEFORE its appears there is much talk
    of monies being available but WEN WILL WE GET ACCESS TO IT,cos as a sec of THREE clubs i’ve NOT HEARD of any FOLLOW UP & i dont suppose i’m alone in this SO WHAT IS THE CURRENT NEWS as the preseasons are not far off & the weathers not great & rents & new gear etc has to be paid for & little money comes in during close season..so answers are NEEDED NOW, PLEASE!!!

  19. Mike Thomas on June 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    P.M. Sunday 23/06/2013…i’ve just re-read all the comments-above/below-of when the news on the £150m windfall is coming into grass roots football & what struck me most was that EVERYONE sounded as if they were local to Southampton but ALL the PROBLEMS they were getting seem to be COUNTRYWIDE & with little or NO CHANCE of putting the problems rite… so if we havent ALL DREAMED up this windfall then WHEN ARE THE FAs GOING TO ANNOUNCE WHEN THE DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH IS GOING TO START…..

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