Club Website poll reveals extent of concern over the cost of playing grassroots football
Nine out of 10 members of the grassroots football community are concerned over the rising cost of grassroots football.
89 percent of Club Website members said 'Yes' they are concerned about rising costs in the grassroots game, while only 11 percent of the 2,300 people polled said 'No' they were not.
Many clubs have found that regular running costs have gone up in recent years, most notably pitch hire costs - which are the single most substantial outgoing for many clubs.
Hundreds of members of the Bootle Junior Football League on Merseyside protested last month after Sefton Council announced that it would cost the league £5,280 to use its Buckley Hill site this season, compared to £1,860 last year - an increase of almost 300 percent.
Such cost increases could spell the end of many grassroots clubs. With purses still being tightened following a long period of below-inflation pay increases for many, some families simply can't afford to find the extra cash for weekly subs. As most clubs have to pass on their costs to their players, not finding subs means not finding the required fees, which leads to a story that does not end well.
Kenny Saunders, founder of the Save Grassroots Football campaign, which calls on the Premier League to contribute 7.5% of its TV income to grassroots football, told Club Website that the problem of rising costs is already having a knock-on effect.
“Councils are now putting the cost of government cuts 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,” he said.
Saunders concerns were echoed on our Facebook page where, in response to being asked if rising costs were a concern, Chris Maynard posted:
"Concerned is an understatement. The way local councils/schools are hiking up pitch costs for training/match days, we'll be lucky to enter a national side into the 2026 World Cup!! How do they think amateur teams can afford the ludicrous costs... it's NON-PROFIT for crying out loud."
Matthew Grigg added: "Our pitch is £48 per game this season, add the £28 of a ref... minimum 11 home games will cost £836. With very little sponsorship this is funded totally by the players and managers fundraising. No wonder we are losing so many clubs at grass root level."
The FA Chairman's Commission is due to address "grave issues" surrounding grassroots football facilities in its follow-up report, due this autumn. The commission's second report - which will also focus on the issue of grassroots coaching - is expected to include detailed recommendations to “dramatically improve grassroots facilities over the next three to five years”.
Whether this will begin to ease concerns at grassroots level remains to be seen but, for now at least, the vast majority of the grassroots community remain worried about the cost of playing the beautiful game.
CW poll result: Are you concerned about rising costs in grassroots football?
Votes cast: 2,307
New CW poll: How much (including up-front costs & weekly fees) does your club charge players each season?
Cast your vote on your club or league website now - or here on our demo site - and don't forget to have your say in the comments section below. We love a bit of a debate on the issues that matter!