Facilities still below par for half of UK footballers

Club Website facilities poll - April 2013Almost half of the UK’s football community are still having to put up with sub-standard facilities on a regular basis, a new Club Website poll can reveal.

49 percent of over 2,000 people polled described the overall quality of facilities at their grassroots football matches as either “poor” (25.5%) or “terrible” (23.3%).

This compares to 28% of people with a positive overall view of their football facilities, describing them as either “excellent” (14.2%) or “good” (13.7%).

The remaining 23% of respondents described their facilities as “OK”.

The results are strikingly similar to a 2009 poll – which led to a Club Website tour of some of the country’s worst facilities to highlight the issue – suggesting that the situation has not improved in the ensuing period.

The Football Foundation, the UK’s largest sports charity, has done more than anyone to improve the infrastructure of football facilities in this country in the last decade.

Since it was launched in 2000, the Foundation has awarded more than £420m in grants to help improving grassroots sport, which it has used to attract additional partnership funding of over £520m.

But despite helping to build thousands of impressive new facilities around the country, which have transformed the quality of grassroots sport offered to countless people, the Foundation has seen their funding cut in recent years.

The Football Foundation is funded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government (via Sport England), each of whom invested an annual £20m each when the Foundation was launched in July 2000.

This combined £60m investment – around £85m today when adjusted for inflation – has since decreased to an annual £34m, only £28m of which is directly invested into grassroots facilities.

FA National Facilities Strategy 2013-15The FA recently announced a new £150m Facilities Strategy, after 84% of people they surveyed told them that facilities were their most pressing concern.

The £150m outlined represents a continuation of existing funding rather than any new investment, but the strategy focuses on the three partners working together to improve football facilities.

Whilst the continuing economic crisis and the threat of a triple-dip recession suggest more bleak times ahead for many, the Premier League continues to buck the global financial trend.

With a new £3bn domestic TV deal set to kick in from the start of next season – up 70% on the previous deal – the game has never been richer, but how much of that money will filter down to the grassroots game remains to be seen.

The cross-game approach to improving facilities is expected to tie the three funding partners to similar levels of investment moving forward and, whilst the Premier League is awash with cash, the government is in the midst of the toughest period of austerity for decades.

All the while, pressure increases on the budgets of local councils – responsible for many of the worst football pitches and facilities around – making the game more expensive for many without any improvement in the facilities on offer.

The next round of Football Foundation funding is up for discussion later this year. Judging by the results of this latest Club Website poll – which highlights an issue that just won’t go away – the grassroots community will be eagerly awaiting the outcome.

Club Website poll: How would you rate the overall quality of facilities at your grassroots football matches?

– Poor 25.5%
– Terrible 23.3%
– OK 23.2%
– Excellent 14.2%
– Good 13.7%

Total votes cast: 2,039

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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. Mark on April 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I would be interested to find out why the Birmingham County FA have knowingly let one of the largest and one the only quality football facilities in North Birmingham be sold to a Rugby club who intend to kick football off. This was a University facility and was sold for a cut price far below the asking price, if the FA had this money to do this why didn’t they step in. Adult and Junior football in the area will be decimated and the strain on pitches will be impossible! Saturday AM& Pm and Sunday AM / PM will have no where to play as well as the Astr pitch where many teams train! FA why didn’t you help??

  2. jim anderson on April 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Is this only for English Clubs? We run 12 teams for
    adults and juniors and our facilities are terrible although strangely we have the best pitch in the County! Many thanks.

  3. Roger Libretto on April 26, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Here in Exeter, Devon the local facilities are expensive and are on long term leases to local football clubs who know nothing about ground maintanance, they will almost certainly use the council parks dept. to cut and mark the pitches but often the grass is too long and when cut all the grass cuttings are left on the playing surface.
    We are fortunate to be able to use the local college facilitites and we maintain most of the pitches ourselves and are among the bestaround but lack a club house and decent changing facilities which we would dearly like to improve but find it difficult as lack of income.

  4. Richard Swallow on April 26, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    My sons have played football since they were 6 (now 11 and 15), in last 2 years they have also taken up rugby.
    Talking to rugby coaches they have exactly same issue as grass roots football, shortage of pitches!
    We can have great infrastructure and equipment but it’s all meaningless without a pitch to play on.
    The UK weather is rubbish so everyone wants to protect the few ptiches that are available from over use. The hypocrisy of this is the FA encourage grass roots clubs to grow/expand (no charter/community standard if they don’t) but there is no funding/help with securing new/extra pitches. It’s catch 22 and it all comes back to the £money. If we can’t find more pitches then maybe improve the ones we have to accomodate more games and perhaps share pitches for both rugby and football??
    If there’s any money left then showers and changing rooms would be great!

  5. Tommy north on April 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Trojan bears fc is joining the inter 2 league and looking for friendlies asap if u would like a friendly game plz call or text me asap willing to travel

  6. msb03 on April 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    it’s the same old vicious circle,the local FA won’t help unless you have the money, you can’t get the money unless you have the local fa on board, you can’t get the land unless you have the money and so on. The you have the problems with local authorities who with all the cuts won’t spend any money on the pitches they do have. If you find any land they put all the planning restraints they can to prevent you using the land but charge you and arm and a leg to tell you that. Its just so frustrating!!!!

  7. sr on April 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    the state of the pitches the kids play on is frustrating given the money in football . but any kid that as the desire to play football would at one time have found any scrap of land to play be it grass concrete or dirt land unfortunately kids have not got that desire due to the computer age PELE DIDNT LEARN TO PLAY FOOTBALL ON A 3G PITCH DRIBBLING ROUND CONES

  8. Howard Rangers FC on May 4, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Facilities here in Carlisle need updated, most teams are struggling with sub standard changing rooms and poor maintained pitches, more money from the professional game needs to be given back to grass roots football were it all begins, were do they think the players come from?. A small percentage from all the top players wages and big clubs would go a long way towards improving the facilities down here on the bottom rung. If things don’t change in the next few years GRASS ROOTS football will fail to exist as more young players leave the game. Its about time the FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION took notice and showed more interest in the state of this level of the game. We as clubs are getting let down by the lack of support from the people who choose to ignore what is going on down here on the bottom rung of the ladder. THINGS NEED TO CHANGE AND QUICKLY.

  9. james on May 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Firstly my club DOESNT even have any facilities bar the pitch itself we rely on the cricket club changing rooms which is a good 5min walk if not more from our pitch and 5mins is generous!! I manage Chard United in the Perry street and district football league and have been trying to get changing rooms for years but its 1 step forward 2 steps back!!
    We are on the brink of folding as a club because of this

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