The Impact of the Pandemic on Grassroots Football in the UK
By Christopher Odero
Grassroots football in the UK has been heavily impacted as a result of the pandemic.
According to the study The Final Whistle for Grassroots Football by Switch Before Pitch, more than 90% of grassroots clubs have found themselves with a loss of income in the last year. What’s more concerning is that 5,000 clubs will no longer exist.
Approximately there were around 43,000 grassroots clubs in the UK that were active before the pandemic. “81% of grassroots’ members are gravely concerned about their club’s future as a result of Covid-19”, this shows the effect of situation and how members aren’t sure if they’ll have a club to play in.
74% of grassroots members have helped their clubs through raising or donating funds, or volunteering. Along with 89% hoping that they can go the extra mile and help more.
Community members identify the negatives to the closures of grassroots football:
1. “Reduction in level of physical and mental health.
2. Feeling of isolation due to reduced social interaction.
3. A lack of purpose and no sense of belonging.
4. A dip in confidence.”
The Football Association (The FA) noted that the value of grassroots football is £10.8 billion per year, £8.7 billion toward improving physical and mental well-being with £2 billion in economic value. “Each player spends approximately £326 on football subs, supplies and other enablers, which results in a £410 million tax contribution”. If grassroots football’s contribution to the economy ended, the Government’s income with taxes from grassroots football would affect the NHS and policing.
Former England goalkeeper David James stated that “The Government has the power to save grassroots football… They must act, and fast”. Unfortunately, the majority of the clubs in the UK don’t feel they have much support from the Government as many don’t bother applying because they know the application process will take too much time. Out of the 18% of grassroots clubs that have attempted to apply for Government funding, just 13% of the clubs received some type of funding from the Government. This is about just over 1,000 clubs in the UK.
To keep grassroots teams running, each team need around £8K. However, without anyone playing, it’s simply not possible.
We hope the Government can fund the teams and organisations who need support. But until football can be played again, grassroots football will continue to struggle.