1 In 3 Grassroots Pitches Adequate: Only one in three pitches at grassroots level is of adequate quality, says the Football Association.
The figure is part of the FA’s written evidence for a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) parliamentary hearing on Wednesday about the possible sale of Wembley Stadium.
The FA says it is “considering a sale because it represents a transformative opportunity” to change “the poor state of community football facilities”.
The DCMS hearing starts at 14:00 BST.
The FA has received an offer of £600m for the national stadium from Fulham owner Shahid Khan – the governing body would retain Club Wembley rights which it values at £250m-£300m.
Among those taking part in the DCMS hearing are Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and FA chief executive Martin Glenn.
Sport England chair Nick Bitel, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville and Katrina Law, co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust, will also answer questions.
The problems with grassroots football?
There are 21,000 grassroots clubs, 50 county FAs, 25,000 schools and 330 local authorities which are catered for by the FA and, along with the finding that only one in three grassroots pitches are of adequate quality, the FA’s written evidence also highlights:
- 150,000 matches were called off last season due to poor facilities
- One in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality
- 33 of 50 county FAs are without their own 3G pitch
- Cancelled matches account for the equivalent of 5,000,000 playing opportunities lost this year because of poor facilities
- There are half the number of 3G pitches in England than there are in Germany
“The word for grassroots football is ‘crisis,'” said Kenny Saunders, who runs pressure group Save Grassroots Football. “Government cuts to local councils are having a massive impact.
“Councils can’t maintain pitches and more of them are selling them off.
“I would welcome the sale of Wembley if the money is ring-fenced for grassroots football and used wisely. We need to build from the bottom.”
How much does the FA currently spend on grassroots football?
Since 2000, the FA says it has invested around £615m in grassroots football along with the Premier League, Sport England and the DCMS.
The FA has put £127m back into every level of football during the 2017-18 season and this will rise to £180m from the 2018-19 campaign onwards.
“In 2017, investments included £13m in coaching and participation; £17m to the county FAs for the delivery of community football; £4m in disability, equality and child protection; £20m investment in community football facilities; £5m for women’s football development (taking our total spend in women’s football to £13m); £36m in FA competition prize funds; £18m of investments in other football organisations and £14m of various other investments,” said the FA.
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