The problem with grassroots football


The BBC highlighted a number of issues arising out of the FA's evidence to a parliamentary hearing last Wednesday about the possible sale of Wembley Stadium:

  • 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

These problems were very noticeable last winter and were repeatedly brought up, not least at the time of our Sevenoaks Town event in February. The answer lies in 3G (artificial) pitches, proper maintenance and the right drainage, but all of these things cost money. At our Sevenoaks event, the finances were addressed by STFC Chairman Paul Lansdale - and now it seems funding is moving up on the FA's agenda too, with part of the potential sale price for Wembley being aimed at "investment into community football facilities".

The new 3G pitch we installed last year for STFC is now in daily use, as it was throughout the winter, and regular maintenance should keep it going for 10-15 years before it needs renewing. No cancellations were necessary, which leads to a virtuous circle of improved cashflow, better players and better football for all.

We are hoping to repeat the Sevenoaks event in other locations next winter - perhaps the FA's thinking will have solidified by then?