Campaign relaunched to ‘Save Grassroots Football’

Premier League faces renewed calls for increased funding for grassroots game, as campaign seeks 100,000 e-petition signatures to force Parliamentary debate on the issue.

The Premier League is facing renewed calls to increase their investment in grassroots football, following the relaunch of a campaign swiftly gathering public support.

The Save Grassroots Football campaign, launched last season and backed by David Crausby MP, calls on the Premier League to invest 7.5 percent of its broadcasting revenue into the grassroots game.

The Bolton and North East MP setup an epetition which gathered over 30,000 signatures in 12 months and has now been relaunched with a target of 100,000 signatures to try and force a Parliamentary debate on the issue.

“I think the time has come to really build meaningful support for this campaign. More and more people are recognising the problems facing our national sport and becoming open to new ideas to try and put things right,” said Crausby, who relaunched the campaign on talkSPORT this month.

“The cuts imposed by the Government on Local Authorities across the country mean that football is feeling the effect. I’ve heard stories from around the country about ordinary families unable to pay rising subs, poor quality pitches and an absence of decent changing facilities.

“I think that it would be unreasonable to demand that councils put more money into football at a time when such difficult decisions are being made, but I still think that it is important for our country so we must look for alternative revenue.”

The Premier League currently invests £56m in social and community projects each year, £12m of which is earmarked for grassroots football facilities, alongside £12m from the FA and £10m from government, as part of the FA and Premier League Facilties Fund.

Crausby (pictured) believes this figure is insufficient and puts the spotlight on the Premier League, with an annual turnover of over £1bn a year, to do more.

“When this campaign started the Premier League had just signed a deal for their broadcasting rights over three seasons that is worth £5bn.

“Clearly there is money in football, but it is being concentrated at the top. I don’t want this cash boost to be wasted on even higher wages for managers and players, it’s time for the Premier League to give more back to the grassroots.”

The relaunched epetition has gathered over 6,500 signatures within the first three weeks, leaving campaign founder Kenny Saunders confident that they can reach the magic 100,000 mark before its March 2015 deadline, which would mean the government has to consider holding a debate on the issue.

“If we keep up at this pace, I’m certain that we’ll reach our target of 100,000 this time,” said Saunders. “It’s out there again now and with England’s failure in the World Cup and more and more councils putting pitch fees up, we’ve kept the momentum going.

“More and more people are standing up and saying ‘you know what, for us to improve football in this country we need to start from the bottom’. We seem to have got miles and miles away from where the Premier League is to where grassroots football is.”

The Premier League, which has also come under pressure from the Labour party to increase its support for grassroots football, points out that it redistributes a higher proportion of its revenue to grassroots and community sport than any other European or domestic sporting body.

“Last season we invested in 52 new artificial grass pitches (AGPs) and hundreds of new grass pitches across the country via the new Premier League and FA Facilities Fund. Our money will deliver a further 100 plus new community AGPs in the next two years,” said a Premier League statement.

“Working closely with our clubs, we also support projects that focus on improving sports coaching in schools and inspiring young people to play sport. All of this activity is part of our £56m per season investment in good causes and grassroots sport.

“We understand that all those interested in the long-term health of English football want to see better grassroots facilities and higher levels of participation, particularly amongst young people. This is why we are committed to continue the unprecedented levels of funding we provide as well as being happy to engage on these matters.”

But for many, investment in the grassroots game is not making any positive difference to their own experience. Among them are the members of the Bootle Junior Football League, hundreds of whom protested this month about an near 300% increase in pitch hire fees for its Buckley Hill site.

The increase – which will see the league charged £5,280 for the use of the site this season, compared to £1,860 last year – was implemented by Sefton Council, one of many local authorities across the country struggling to cope with cuts in funding as a result of recent government cutbacks.

“Facilities are getting worse because of government cuts being put onto councils and councils are now putting that onto grassroots teams, who can’t now afford to play football or certainly can’t afford to train midweek because of the cost of facilities,” said Saunders, who doesn’t limit his criticism to the Premier League.

“The government’s Olympic legacy went out the window as soon as the Olympics were over and the FA have let us down for many, many years. We are just a cash converter in grassroots football – for bookings, sendings off, courses, CRB checks, everything.

“The FA and government should also be responsible for how poor the facilities are in this country, but we are targetting the Premier League because that is where the money is.

“They have millions and millions of pounds to do something about it and without grassroots football there wouldn’t be a Premier League. Every single player in the Premier League comes from grassroots football.”

You can show your support for the Save Grassroots Football campaign by signing the epetition. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter and on Facebook.

CW Poll: Are you concerned about rising costs in grassroots football?

Cast your vote on your club or league website now, or here on our demo site. Also, please also have your say in the comments section below.

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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. anthony ( Tony ) Gre on July 25, 2014 at 11:47 am

    As the club Secretary and treasurer of Prestwich Heys AFC I know what the cost’s are of running a amateur club, with all the costs of maintaining a club such as ours, we recently had to buy new goalposts which cost over two thousand five hundred pound’s, then after the Christmas period with adverse weather we had to completely renew the clubhouse and mainly the roof which cost thousands again, at the start of the season because of the previous years bad weather which led to a large amount of postponement’s we had underground drainage completed by a company recommened by the LFA which cost £8,700 00, none of the amounts I have given you were in any way were done with any kind of funding or grant’s, plus the fact that our clubhouse is a free standing woodern structure and cannot be insured, which meant when the clubhouse was broken into and I mean broke into by tearing away the wall’s and stealing our stock, meant we had to repair the damage and replace the stock at our own cost which was thanks to our committee members digging deep in to our own pockets, we also have on countless times had gang’s of youths on our pitch playing in bad weather and causing damage no more so than at this time of school holidays., which means we have already had some damage to the new goalposts we also have the cost’s of buying two new strips for our two teams which thankfully we have managed to get a sponsor for at a cost of £2,400 00, then we have the coat of our own Manchester-league fee’s and cup cost’s then we have our Lancashire FA affiliation and membership and cup cost’s plus two charity entrance fee’s, then we have the matchday referees’ and linesmens cost which can be well over £2,000 00 a year, again the cost of Charity cup officials, also the cost of any fine’s incurred by the club depending on the offence or the amount of penalty points amassed, which is totally depends of the amount of money our clubhouse can achieve plus the committee member digging deep once again, so you can see from our experiences we survive on the hardwork of not only our committe member and the great work done by our club managers and an army of tradesmen that work for no costs but the love of this club, and the want to take this club to a far higher standard of football where we once were, many thanks’ Tony Greenhouse Prestwich Heys AFC.

  2. Mick Breen on July 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Councils and Central Government must reduce costs to allow the next generation of children to play sport at grass roots level

  3. Steve Arney. on July 25, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I would like to propose that any pro player or manager/coach earning in excess of say £20K a week has a 1% levy to put straight into a Save Grass Roots fund. Lets build some momentum before it’s too late.

  4. jimmy kenny on July 25, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    there should be no charges to any junior football teams and all junior leagues should be funded
    with out the people who run these league
    country wide football will cease to exist
    so lets stick together and sign any pettions that come are way

  5. Neil on July 25, 2014 at 2:47 pm


    We run an adult team that has been Charter Standard for the past eight years. We’ve seen nothing in terms of support from our local FA due to having this accreditation and this week we launched a Futsal Academy for kids aged 7-11 to get active and know the sport.

    The local FA wanted nothing to do with this, they haven’t offered any sort of Futsal coaching to kids so we had to step in to do it off our own backs to push grassroots.

    We had a good turnout, run by a UEFA B licensed coach who thought that one of the kids was a sure fire future player and wants to get some scouts down to future sessions.

    That’s an incredible result and if this was more widely pushed by the Football Associations then perhaps we’d have a better youth development system in place!

  6. Miss D Ross on July 25, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I do hope that any monies gained is spread across grass roots football not only in England but also in Wales as Wales are represented in the premier league. Welsh grassroots football have even less revenue than England and is also in dire straits.

  7. richard rayfield on July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    yes i completely agree, i have 2 sons aged 8 & 10 that both play for teams in the medway league, i firmly believe that the standard of the pitches are very poor and the costs to register a player up to £50 per child is outrageous, what do we get for that money as a parent as we also have to pay weekly subs for training and match fees. Someone is making alot of money somewhere and to me were not seeing any benfits from paying out all this money.
    grassroots football is suppose to generate lots of good english players, but again, where are all the good english players ?
    the premier league may be the best league in the world but unfortunately it’s full of foreign players. even the lower leagues have alot of foreign players, so where are the english players, most of them are only making it to non-league status, or if there at bigger clubs there not making it in to the main squads.
    this is why we will never compete at the big stage.

  8. finn panton on July 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    yes i have been running a league for 30 years costs are now too much for teams and individual players ,hence sunday league teams and leagues are collapsing .there are still alot of quality players kicking round with jumpers down who have no club to join because of cost. One of our league pitches plus referee can cost be as much as 180 for a game. if you are unemployed or employed this is no joke.

  9. Peter Worby on July 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    i have been a coach for 15 years and children are dropping out this year for the first time we have no u7,s happy to talk 07803895937 Very worried Peter

  10. David drake on July 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Of course the Premiership is the most competitive league in the World but at what cost? At the top level the national team suffers because of the lack of opportunity in the premiership for home grown players.
    At grass roots level the game is struggling-costs rising but does anyone really care. In the 4th largest city in the country (Leeds) there is now no where for a Saturday team to start from scratch. The Leeds Red Triangle League has just folded due to a lack of teams and other Leagues in Leeds will not take anyone without a pedigree. The LRTL had 200 teams in 1970 and even as recently as 2000 there were 30 teams; the season just finished with 6 teams and only 4 were committed to season 2014/15. All down to cost? Not necessarily but a top Premiership players weekly wage would keep at least 150 grassroots teams going for a season when council pitch fees rise and rise. Then the competition for local players commitment when Premiership games are on TV on a Saturday afternoon is not to be discounted. Do Premiership players care I ask myself. Likewise do the people who run the Premiership, Sky TV, or the FA care either. I doubt it. David

  11. Tony Galvin on July 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    I fully support this campaign. We need to invest in better facilities for all those in our country who have such a great love for participating in our national game. I benefited from those volunteers who gave so much of their time to help and support others. It is now time to focus on the important role of grassroots football in society and provide the funding that it deserves.

  12. Ian Yeomans on July 27, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Why cant the football league use their money
    to set up and run youth football pitches at central
    venues. All the youth and mini league teams would have better pitches to play on.
    The councils can then put out more mens pitches
    and youth teams would not have to play on the wrong size pitches.

  13. Mick on July 28, 2014 at 9:28 am

    The premier league should stop the parachute payments to relegated clubs and plough all this money in to grassroots football.

  14. Steve Mahoney on July 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I run a boys team in london as part of a club called Bealonians who are based in Barkingside Essex.You always read about Premier players all come from grassroots but they never give anything back.The amount of money they earn. Giving money to help grassroots they would never miss it.We don’t want millions off them but some would help.

  15. msb03 on July 28, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    12m put back into grassroots football, i’d love to know where? There are approximately 37,000 grassroots clubs in England so that works out at £324.32 pence per club. Doesn’t even cover the rent for a full size pitch for the year!! I belong to an average sized club in the West Country with teams from under 6 – u16’s about 150 players 22 coaches/managers. Look at the costs for each team/club just to play football. County affiliation £25 youth £25 mini, league cost per team £40 youth £40/50 mini plus £7 per player registration fee, county cup competitions £10 per team £10-20 CRC renewal, FA courses anything between £95 to £250. Rents for pitches £1200 for 2 full size 1 3/4 and 2 minis. Add to that kits, equipment, grass cutting, line marking, insurance etc and it costs us about £15,000 a year just to function. Every penny is raised by the club, no grants, no help from the FA just the goodwill of the managers, parents , committee and local business. 1 days wages from a mega star on £200,000 per week would run our club for nearly 2 years. The FA needs to redirect the money to training grassroots coaches for free, which will improve the players, funding better facilities that don’t cost the earth to use, not just in London and the big cities but out in the sticks as well. We are not asking for the world just a small bite of the pie to keep the kids playing and having the facilities that are fit for purpose, not mudbaths for half the season

  16. Stephen Appleby. on August 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Put a 2% levy on all transfers and agent payments so players and clubs help fund grassroots football in UK. Also 2% of money National teams receive for competitions like World Cup and a Euros, should go to grassroots football.

  17. Julie Fisk on September 11, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    The Premier League really do need to put more back into grassroots football. We have 70 volunteers who between them contribute 10,000 hours per annum to support 31 teams to play football. Our coaches invest time and expertise to produce good players and then lose them to professional clubs who reap the rewards but it would be nice if they gave something back. After all if they sell the players on they get some recompense! We don’t!

  18. Robin Fletcher on December 20, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    The Save Grassroots Football campaign, launched last season and backed by David Crausby MP, calls on the Premier League to invest 7.5 percent of its broadcasting revenue into the grassroots game.

    The Bolton and North East MP setup an epetition which gathered over 30,000 signatures in 12 months and has now been relaunched with a target of 100,000 signatures to try and force a Parliamentary debate on the issue.
    A Question

    As this in formation been sent to every proffessional footballer in the land
    if not don’t you think it might wake them up to what they have been given.
    Am i right in thinking they could donate tax deductions to Grass rootes football!

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