Nine out of 10 worried over rising grassroots costs

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?

Yes 89%
No 11%

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!

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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. Thomas Hall on August 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    With the increase each season and we believe
    that next season our adult pitches will rise by
    125%, we have been in talks with our local council to reduce costs.The solution was that our league will be granted a Licence to take on the maintenance of all sites that we use ie grass cutting Marking out and all other aspects of pitch care.With volunteers from clubs and funding from our FA for machinery
    we can greatly reduce cost to clubs as our league will be in charge of finances.

    Thomas Hall Secretary
    Lichfield&Walsall District Football League

  2. Tom Gavin on August 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    If only people had responded to the online petition “Force the Premier League to back grassroots football” as well as they did to your survey !!!!!!!!
    Re Matthew Grigg comment re £48 per game the average price on a Sunday in Birmingham is £70
    Tom Gavin
    Sutton & District Sunday League

  3. CHarlie Haynes on August 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    £28 a game for a referee for 90 mins work …. that would equate to an annual salary of approx £35K per year!!

  4. Mark Stanistreet on August 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    The issue is with the councils. They are looking for money any way they can. The council will put up costs for as long as they can get away with it. However the answer is not throwing money at grassroots football. If external money is put into grassroots then the councils will just charge even more.
    What is required is some primary legislation to force councils to provide adequate facilities football or ring-fence central funding to force it to be spent on local sport provision rather than councilor expenses and pensions.
    If people are priced out of grassroot football then how long will it be before recreation grounds are sold off for housing because they are not being used? We have seen this before with school playing fields and garden allotments. It’s too late when your local park is a housing development or a Tesco.

  5. Simon Robinson on August 21, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    We are finding costs are rising we have kept our weekly subs down to £5 per week inc game and a £15 reg fee which includes kit for season. This is under pressure this year with pitches creeping up. Our cheapest pitch is £26 but it is that price as the goal posts lean over by 5 degrees and you the goal keeper is stood 1.5 inches below ground level to start with.. concerning for an under 13 in a full size goal.

    Then the league and county FA keep fining for very minor admin errors which could have been avoided with simple process improvement and automation on there part or even some discretion once the circumstances are determine. I think many clubs will clock up £100 in fines on issues with typos on match cards alone next season..

  6. Henry on August 21, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Re Tom Gavin, down here in Kent our pitch hire is also £70 a game, however our referee costs have this season been put up to £40 a game!!
    I protested at our League AGM, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.
    Let’s also not forget the cost of: Footballs, equipment (cones, bibs, pump etc), kit, washing powder for the kit, league fee’s, cup fee’s, county affiliation fee’s, 3G hire for training (which has also gone up this season here from £25 to £30 p/h), end-of-season awards etc etc. I could go on.

    Absolutely ludicrous. Finding sponsorship is so so difficult, and from a local businesses’ point of view, I can see why pouring £500-1000 into a local men’s club every year is probably not going to be financially beneficial for them from a business/marketing point of view, however this is the reality of rising costs in grassroots football.

    With the rising costs and lack of sponsorship, we are having to put our signing on fee’s and weekly subs fee’s up considerably, which is already starting to drive players away from the game because it has become a far too expensive ‘hobby’.

    There does seem to be some funding out there for junior clubs, but mainly for starting up new teams. There appears to be little in the way of financial support to help keep existing teams afloat, and as far as open age (men’s) teams are concerned, we seem to have been forgotten entirely. Absolutely nothing out there (that I have found) in the way of financial support.

  7. Dave on August 23, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Costs in the West Midlands have risen to such degree that it costs over a £100 per game. This is to play on unmaintained pitches with appalling changing facilities. The local leagues, some with traditions going back several decades, are collapsing. £5.2 BILLION was the last Premier League deal, we get nothing at the bottom. Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage alone would run 200 clubs for a season. There is no redeeming aspect in any of this. I have over 40 years in grassroots football, I had to stop two seasons ago, purely through financial pressure!

  8. Kenneth Allen on August 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    For the FA and the Premier League, it’s a case of, “Fiddling while the game burns”. Everything within the game needs overhauling. The number of clubs in financial difficulties is ridiculous, but they still keep spending. Pity none of it goes to the grass roots football. Until it does, we’ll keep getting changed in broken down changing rooms and playing on poorly maintained pitches, no wonder the England team is so bad.

  9. Andy Williams on September 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with comments , nothing more to add really except , PREMIER LEAGUE LOCAL COUNCILS , LOCAL FA’s pull your finger out and help grassroots football clubs across the country . We as coaches tell you season in season out what’s wrong with football at this level but nothing is ever done , you just bring out the same polls with the same answers …

  10. andy day on September 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    cost’s are a big problem a home game can now cost up to £90 a game in York , we have gone from six divisions down to three over last four years and teams keep folding each year its getting harder and harder, one big cost is the referee fee can pay £30+ depending on travel

  11. michael paton on February 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Yes playing football costs but nobody mentions all the bookings red cards fines for everything which is really killing youth and grass roots football.
    I know of 5 young players at university who have given up because of continuous booking and red cards for nothing more than a strong tackle or 2 silly not deserved bookings local Fa’s are killing football where is all that money going? Jolly ups for Fa fat cats who do not care about football

  12. lee on March 2, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    The u9s team my boy plays for wants to charge £15 per month and £40 signing on fee and as a parent who doesn’t see where the money is going to ,as theres no need to pay for refs yet ,I’m not very happy which will result in the lad not playing the game he loves

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