£50m government boost for grassroots football

Government pledges £50m to improve grassroots football facilities and coaching over five years

The Football Association’s plans to revolutionise England’s grassroots football facilities in England have received a £50m funding boost from the Government.

The plans for 150 new coaching hubs in 30 cities across the country, announced by the FA Chairman’s England Commission last month, have been largely well received by the football community but the first major funding pledge, which will be matched by the FA themselves, will go some way to footing the expected £230m bill.

Chancellor George Osborne announced that the treasury will contribute a further £8m to football facilities over five years – on top of the £10m per annum it currently invests in the FA and Premier League Facilities Fund (FAPLFF) – along with a further £2m annual investment in improved coaching.

Further funding is expected to come from the Premier League and the Football League, as well as local authorities involved in the new facility projects, which have kicked off with a pilot trial in Sheffield.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke said: “I am delighted that the Government has shown its support for the England Commission’s drive to significantly improve grassroots football facilities and coaching.

“The best quality coaches working on the best quality facilities will really help us to deliver a transformation in player and coach development across English football. This improvement is vital to the nation’s shared ambition of future England team success.

“Significantly improving our grassroots football infrastructure is vital. Everyone playing the game at every level deserves the best opportunity to reach their potential. Today’s announcement will take us a long way forward to achieving our goals.

The new government investment will help to build over 400 new first class artificial grass pitches (AGPs) – an increase of 50% to more than 1,000 – whilst urban areas will see numbers rise by 130% to over 500.

These new pitches will allow over 50% of all youth football matches to be played on the best quality AGPs. They will be backed up by the investment in coaching, which aims to support 25 new ‘coach educators’ to help triple the number of advanced youth coaches across the country, whilst a new bursary scheme will help more women and people from a BAME background qualify as coaches.

Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Investing in building state-of-the-art 3G pitches up and down the country is a real boost to grassroots sport.

“These all-weather facilities will not only mean that people can play football all-year round but are great for talent development due to the true, flat playing surface. If we strengthen the game at the grassroots and increase the number of coaches, it will only help the England team in future World Cups and European Championships.”

By doubling its investment, the Government has ensured its funding for grassroots football is back at the same level as in 2000, when the Football Foundation was established to help redistribute money from the Premier League and the FA, along with government funds, back into improving grassroots football facilities.

Since then, all three funding partners have gradually cut their funding from £20m to no more than £12m per annum. Whilst the grassroots game will welcome a return to the old levels of funding, many will argue the investment should have increased over the last decade, rather than been cut.

With facilities getting worse as professional clubs get richer and richer, the Premier League has faced calls to significantly increase its investment in the grassroots game.

Now it is hoped that Greg Dyke’s radical new plans will encourage the Premier League clubs to dig deeper into its pockets, just as they did with the Chancellor.

“The Premier League has a longstanding commitment to investing in facilities for the grassroots game, using a significant amount of the income we earn from selling our broadcast rights,” said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore.

“Building on that commitment, we will work closely with the Government, the FA and our Clubs to make these new local partnerships a success. Good coaching on good pitches is the foundation of good football, whether it’s people playing for fun or talented youngsters developing their skills for the future and so the whole of football will benefit.”

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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. Chris Rogers on December 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    No good having new pitch to train on when grassroots teams cannot afford to hire them. Just had my fee for training increased 100% by Knowsley Council due to government funds being cut.
    That’s what’s killing grassroots.

  2. Derek Walker on December 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    At what age does grassroots Football start? When enquiring recently about funding availability I was advised fourteen and over. Not very helpful when you are trying to encourage those starting to play Football at seven eight year olds

  3. Brad on December 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    A conversation with warden of the local parish in Bristol the other day. “We’ve just built a new 3G pitch down by the sports field and have slots if you want to hire it. Costs £42 per hour”

    £42 per hour, we need the pitch for 90 mins. Where the hell do I get £63 from to pay for that every other week??? Oh and we run grassroots clubs from U6 to U16 with two teams in some age groups! It’s about profit not the Future England team

  4. Brinsley evans on December 18, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    We have a 3G but can’t get all our grassroots kids on ,its always hired out!!! We need another building’ Brinsley evans thurmaston magpies mini football secutary

  5. Bob Hickman on December 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    What is meant by ‘Grassroots’ needs to be more clearly defined. It should be re-categorised as ‘Youth Football’ and should cover age groups from U7s onwards. There seems to be too much emphasis on U14s and upwards when clubs actually need financial assistance to start new teams at U7/U8 level. I also agree with the comments about the exorbitant charges for 3g pitches.

  6. Neil Thompson on December 22, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Cost is the biggest issue with amateur clubs we have Over 300 footballers playing and. Need our own facilities not schools, or sports centres the emphasis should be on well organised clubs in the community who have been providing football for many years with no help from councils etc but as we don’t live in deprived area we get no help

  7. sarah on December 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Both my kids play play grassroots football in a small tow called lydney and they haven’t got there own pitch we have to hire a play to play witch cost the parent money and i thing every club should have a place they call there own ground !!…

  8. Bill Maynard on December 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    its a fact of life councils can no longer afford to sustain and upkeep many council pitches the way forward is for clubs or leagues asset manage the facilities.
    Hard work yes but very achievable by all parties working together, we have started down this route in Blackburn with Darwen with positive results.

  9. brent hull on December 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    If we have better facilities such as changing areas and indoor pitches for winter training then we will get the best out of the younger players. Also this way we will attract the younger player and not scare them away with cold weather training….especially up here in the great border city of carlisle 😀

  10. Brent Hull on December 22, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    This is exactly what grassroots football needs….money to spend on indoor training during the winter months….as a coach I know how the cold weather can deter young kids.

  11. Bob Alcock on December 23, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Our local sports centre attached to a secondary school has a 3g pitch built partly funded by the football foundation. I would love my u7’s and 8’s to train and play matches on there. However at £30 per hour for a third of the pitch and £70 per hour for the whole pitch we just can’t afford it. I’ve spoken to the school about getting our teams playing on their grass pitches. However they now don’t have any as the kids use the 3g pitch during the day. I can only think of one 5v5 council pitch in the town and one 7v7. No wonder the local youth league is shrinking year on year.

  12. Ian Yeomans on December 23, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    If the grassroots money is going to be used to pay
    for all these new 3G pitches then the football league should run the pitches at a price that all teams & clubs can afford. Not for council,s to make big profits using them for 5 & 6 a-side men,s leagues.

  13. Ian Yeomans on December 24, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I belong to a club that runs teams from U7,s to
    U16,s and a soccer school, we do have our own ground but we have to self fund, with no outside
    help. If we were to loose our ground we would really struggle to pay the fees that the local council,s would charge. The grassroots money should be used to help all clubs.

  14. Amanda huby on October 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    My son is in a football team with no funds we struggle to arrange winter training which roughly costs £40-£50 per hour which can become very costly and if we don’t get it. The children suffer.

  15. stefanie on May 14, 2016 at 10:20 am

    my son plays for under’s team and we play on a grass pitch through the winter that gets bogged and waterlogged and we are not allowed to use for winter training so we have to use funds from parents to book the local sports centres 3g pitch for winter training which costs us about £100 per hour + , we would really like some help so our boys can play and train on a proper pitch. we are newly promoted to the surrey primary championship league for the coming season and would really like some help or advice.

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