Facilities still the big grassroots issue – Sky Sports survey

A survey by Sky Sports News has revealed that poor facilities are still the biggest issue facing the grassroots game.

The survey of over 2,500 people found that poor pitches and facilities, along with a lack of investment, are the top priorities for those who play the game.

84 percent of survey respondents said that they felt the FA was not doing enough to preserve grassroots football, while 66 percent said that their local council did not do enough to maintain pitches and facilities.

The results will come as no great surprise to anyone within the grassroots game.

In 2009, Club Website revealed that half of the grassroots football community put up with substandard facilities on a regular basis, while the FA’s own 2011 grassroots football survey found that 84 percent of people identified facilities as the most pressing issue facing the game.

The wettest winter on records has caused more frustration than ever for the football community, with the average grassroots team missing more than five games (Club Website poll, March 2014) and some teams going months without a game.

Club Website members responded to the Sky Sports poll in their hundreds and many shared their thoughts on the big issue.

Among them was Mark Oliver, who said: “One of the biggest problems is the poor condition of most pitches and the type of football that it produces. How can we expect our youngest players to play football unless we give them a surface to play on?

“Every primary school and secondary school should have their own 3G pitch too which the community can access. But this will require a huge investment in grassroots facilities.”

FA General Secretary Alex Horne said that Sky Sports News’ findings were “consistent with FA research” and admitted that there was room for “a big increase” in the number of 3G pitches in England.

Horne announced that the FA has been working closely with 17 local authorities to understand the “pressure points” they face in this area, while there are plans in place to work with three local authorities on a new pilot project to take stock of football provision in the wider community.

Read the full results of Sky Sports News’ Grassroots Survey.

Read more about the FA’s plans to work closely with local authorities on the facilities issue.

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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. Shena Chilvers on March 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Due to changing climate we really do need to invest in more 3G pitches. Both my sons played no football during the flooded months. Very often the pitches can’t be used for children games as they are being saved for the adult games. Also lack of 3G pitches makes training in the week difficult as there are no spaces on the limited 3G pitches available that have flood lights (another issue for our dark early winters). In my opinion all schools should have these facilities, so they can play after school in the winter periods.

  2. john overton on March 28, 2014 at 8:30 am

    As Chairman of Poringland Wanderers F.C. playing in Poringland just outside of Norwich in the Anglian Combination Div 1. we are suffering like all teams, volunteers, players, team’s are run by Granddad’s who have huge commitment to the local game, but with nobody stepping up to the plate to take over.
    We have been playing grassroots football since 1903 in the village, we have money in the bank from my efforts, just negotiated a 20 acre site for a new ground, 3G surface, Muga surface, cricket nets, Clubhouse and Community room, I would like to call it a day, the minute I do this the Club will fold, we would be one of many senior clubs that have disappeared from the local footballing scene in the last 3 years..A very sad situation but the boys in their blazers in their ivory towers at the Norfolk F.A. have no idea about the running of grassroots football and the cost involved in putting on a game of local football on a Saturday in 2014. Poor standards of refereeing who give out yellow cards like a John Wayne gunfight. A red card will attract a £35.00 fine the player can play one more game so costs him another £5.00 match fee, that becomes a total of £40.00 for a game in local football on a Saturday without the cost of getting to the ground. A 16 year old introduced into Senior football and comes from a one parent family, tells his single parent he needs £40.00 pounds plus to cover a fine picked up in local football, would I think have a problem to justify playing..The five-a-side floodlit mid week games have killed the Saturday game. players can turn up at a midweek 5 a-side game change, no need to get posts or nets out, pay a couple of quid, play a game, no yellow cards, jump in the car and go. They then have a complete weekend off to do what they want.
    The face of local grassroots football will change in the next 10 years as more and more volunteers leave the game, we have gone from 12 volunteers to 3 who also make up the committee.Yet go to the Norfolk F.A. H.Q.and see the set up and the car’s, cant remember the last time we saw a rep from the F.A. at one of our games. They are more interested in generating cash flow from teams like us to fund wages and their FDC centres..very very sad. but if you talk to any club in the Norfolk Anglian Combination, they all feel the same way..

  3. Simon Govus on March 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I agree with a lot of what John Overton has posted. I run a club in Essex and the costs of running a club are killing us. My team is an mens pub team.

    What frustrates me the most about the F.A is their ignorance towards clubs like ours. The F.A will only give help and funding to clubs that have achieved Charter Standard or above. Unfortunately, the majority of adult football clubs are not Charter Standard. So the majority of people playing football will not receive any financial help from our governing body. The clubs that do satisfy the Charter Standard criteria are generally the bigger clubs with multiple teams. So the big clubs get bigger and the smaller, play for fun football clubs, well, end up folding.

    I am also the only person in the country who is against building 3/4g pitches everywhere. They cost an absolute fortune. In my town, we had one built at the cost of £350,000. It looks fantastic but to use it, both teams have to share a changing room 3x4m in size which was shut 7 years ago for a season as there was an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease. That £350,000 could have bought every single team in the county of Essex a new kit. These 3/4g pitches sound great on paper but they cost too much to construct and only benefit a small minority of people that get the chance to use them. Money needs to be invested in drainage and facilities at all venues that benefit the majority of football players. Once again, this multi million pound investment in 3/4g pitches from the football foundation and Sport England is short sighted and not the answer to the issues with Adult Football. Reduce the costs to clubs on hiring facilities, reduce the amount of pointless club administration, stop leagues fining clubs ridiculous amounts of money for trivial offences and make football fun and affordable for all involved in grass roots football.

  4. John Belton on April 6, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    What should have been an increase in participation after a successful Olympics has gone the other way and therefore the funding organisations Sport England and The Football Foundation have got it wrong and should either be replaced or review their basic principals.
    Throwing money at schools, colleges, universities has very little effect on participation sport they are simple past masters at weedling money out of grant organisations for their own needs.
    Throwing money at youth and junior football is not the answer either that’s just socially fashionable.
    The problem lies in the foundation level, the pay to play players whose clubs don’t have security of tenure on their facilities and therefore cannot access any funding and cannot carry too many 16 to 20 years olds. It follows then that there is little continuity between youth and adult football and the numbers continue to decline.
    Answer change the basic requirement for application and target that section of the community with the available funding.

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