FA to invest record £260m in grassroots football

Third edition of National Game Strategy outlines plans for the grassroots game for 2015-2019

Charging down the wing

The Football Association has outlined plans for a record £260m investment in grassroots football over the next four years.

The third edition of the National Game Strategy, which was first launched in 2008, details the FA’s plans for boosting participation and developing the grassroots game from 2015 to 2019, with a focus on facilities and coaching.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said: “There are challenges facing grassroots football both in terms of facilities and coaching. Today we have set out how we will tackle the challenges head-on.

“We have identified four key areas in which we have committed to investing £260 million over the next four years – facilities, coaching, participation and developing the football workforce. Our goals are ambitious, but achievable.”

The new record £260m investment – which includes £48m of Football Foundation funding – will be supplemented by a further multi-million pound investment in grassroots football facilities, which will see the creation of new football ‘hubs’ across 30 cities in England, supported by government investment and with the Premier League expected to follow suit.

Boys jostling for possessionKelly Simmons, the FA’s director for participation and development, said: “It is no secret that facilities need to get better – today we set out clearly and unequivocally how we can make that happen – not only through the creation of city hubs, but also investing in improving what already exists.

“Our relationship with the Premier League and DCMS through our commitment to the Football Foundation is key to achieving this.”

The first National Game Strategy was launched in 2008 and then refreshed in 2011, with a promised annual investment of £50m in the grassroots game.

Since the launch of the strategy the number of men’s 11-a-side teams has fallen rapidly from 32,000 to less than 28,000 – something that the FA hopes the new strategy will counter by offering more varied formats of the game.

Whilst the traditional men’s game is in decline, the number of women and girls playing football is up by over 40,000 in the last two years, something the FA will hope to build on by harnessing the success of the England team at the Women’s World Cup, whilst continuing the growth in boys’ football and disability football.

The FA will invest £4m per year in grassroots coaching over the next four years – including £2m per year from the government – in a bid to further elevate both the number and quality of coaches at grassroots level, whilst the strategy also aims to improve the quality of play available to everyone involved in the grassroots game.

Simmons added: “Having recognised the benefits of achieving Charter Standard status, 85 per cent of youth teams in England now have a qualified coach, which accounts for nearly one million under-16s benefiting from such access. Alongside that we have seen the growth of youth football by 5,000 new teams since 2011.

“We have come a long way in youth football and it is a similar story in women’s and disability football. We know that 40,000 more girls and women are playing football regularly in the past two years and this is without the increased profile the England women’s team have brought to the sport.”

Club Website will take a more detailed look at the new National Game Strategy in August’s edition of The Clubhouse – our monthly newsletter – so make sure you’re signed up. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of what the strategy covers.

FA logoNational Game Strategy 2015-19 – key areas

The FA wants the new strategy to make an impact in four key areas:

Boosting Participation: Building on the increases in boys and girls participation and growth in disability football, while delivering more varied formats of the game to address the drop in traditional 11v11 weekend football among adult males.

Developing better players: £4million per year will be invested in grassroots coaching. There will be a network of County Coaches – tasked with improving and supporting coaching across grassroots football with club mentoring programmes. The extension of coach bursaries will get more women and people from diverse backgrounds into the profession and there will be a drive to get more top level grassroots coaches into the game.

Better training and facilities: The FA is committing £48million to improving facilities directly through its funding of the Football Foundation as well as investment in 100 new turf pitches and improvements to a further 2,000 as part of The FA’s Pitch Improvement Plan. Further funds have also been dedicated to building 30 new football hubs across key cities – with a pilot scheme already under way in Sheffield – with the Government committed to matching The FA’s contribution.

Football workforce:  Football will become more representative of the communities it serves through inclusion initiatives. The FA is also rolling out technology to run the game more efficiently and create direct lines of communication with players across all grassroots leagues making football truly integrated.

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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. Simon on August 13, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Well 260M isn’t enough. It is certain that once again mens adult football will be ignored. It is no good investing in youth football, if you ignore adult mens football. These kids eventually grow up to become adults and then they join teams like mine. Clubs where kits are 3 years old with numbers peeling off the back of shirts. Where we cannot afford to replenish our first aid kit. Where we cannot afford to purchase end of season trophies. A club where we are dipping into our overdraft every month to survive.

    Adult mens football just isn’t poitically correct enough for investment. It doesn’t make a good headline in a newspaper or on the F.A website.

    The F.A, Football Foundation, Sport England, Greg Dyke, his commission and politicians band about words like EQUALITY, RETENTION and INCLUSION but have policies that contradict these bold words.

    The Charter Standard policy that is superb for youth football simply isn’t viable for Adult football. It is easier to find volunteers from parents at youth football to fill the roles set by the F.A criteria for Charter Standard.

    At adult level it is extremely hard to find willing volunteers. People have families, work commitments and lead busy lives. The majority of adult football clubs are run by just one or two volunteers which makes fulfilling Charter Standard criteria impossible. The regional F.A’s will only give financial help to Charter Standard clubs.

    In my county, less than 10% of all teams are Charter Standard. So the 10% get help, the other 90% get nothing. The Charter Standard policy does not promote equality. It certainly is not inclusive. I would say it is exclusive and unobtainable by the vast majority of clubs. Ignoring the 90% of non Charter Standard clubs is not helping retention. This policy is a two fingered salute to the vast majority of volunteers that run our adult game. To suggest that only Charter Standard clubs are run well and organised is an insult. If you continue to solely financially support adult Charter Standard clubs then they won’t have any one to play against but their 10%.

    Ultimately the main problem with adult grassroots football is affordability. When Sky published the results of their survey into grassroots football, only 28% of those surveyed thought we needed more artificial pitches.

    Here we are three years on and the main initiative to solve the problems at grassroots level is massive investment in 4g pitches. This is not the answer but an understandable policy fronted by a former director general of the BBC. How on earth is Greg Dyke qualified to shape the future of grassroots football? There are volunteers up and down the country who are better qualified to decide our grassroots football future.

    How about cutting this ridiculously expensive artificial pitch funding policy. They cost too much money to build, are nowhere near usable for 80 hours a week like Mr.Dyke stated when this was announced. Most of these new pitches are only part funded by Sport England and the Football Foundation. Councils and Schools still have to raise money to help build these 4g pitches. This then eats into their budgets, which has a knock on effect to the cost they can spend on maintaining and funding their other pitches. Hiring these 4g pitches still costs a fortune which clubs like mine struggle to afford.

    So back to affordability. Why not invest this money in helping all clubs financially, not just those that have the most volunteers? Why not reduce the costs of climbing the coaching ladder for everyone not just your Charter Standard clubs? How about helping the councils reduce the costs for pitch and training facility hire? How about spending money installing decent drainage into the existing grass pitches? How about a structured policy in educating our groundsman to become the best in Europe?

    260 million, equality, retention and inclusion. Hot air and wasted money from an organisation whose combined salaries could pay every teams seasonal pitch hire costs in one of our counties.

  2. Tony on August 13, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    260 million is more than we have ever had, but no where near enough considering what football has just been given from TV revenue, somebody needs to reconsider, Grass roots football provides pro clubs with players, you should be ashamed at the amount you are putting back into the grass roots game, a game that pays your mortgages, whilst people within the grass roots sector do this for nothing, they are the real people who put something back to our national game, DO THE RIGHT THING, GIVE US MORE OF THAT BIG FAT POT OF MONEY YOU HAVE JUST RECEIVED, AND LISTEN TO WHAT WE WANT, NOT WHAT YOU THINK WE WANT. .

  3. carl on August 14, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    So their investing 260 million. Let’s get some of this money into youth football. Let’s look at decent pitches for the young players to play on instead of council pitches with holes in goal mouthes that the council don’t put rite. Grass cutting and marking that needs to be done more often.
    Coaching badges !! Let’s start making it cheaper if not free and the end of the day we are all volunteers and give up our time.
    I agree with the chartered standard but let’s look after team who are not as well .

  4. C. J. FRANCIS on August 23, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Well when you spend money on trying to improve grassroots football, you need to go back, every 5 years to see how the football hub, is being maintained or being taken over by other sports, ie rugby. To see that football has very little say in how the hub is being run, even though it was set up for football. This is just another grassing over, patches, not impressed by talk.

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