The Football Association [The FA] has today launched a new report that explores the social and economic value of adult grassroots football in England.
With the game’s governing body investing over £1 million each week into the grassroots game to support the 8 million adults who regularly play football, it commissioned the report, which is the first of its kind for the FA, to set out the contribution of adult grassroots football to the nation’s economy and wellbeing.
The report found that regular grassroots football in England has a social wellbeing value of £8.7bn , with players reporting significantly higher levels of general health, confidence, motivation and trust compared with those who play other sports. Lower income groups in particular were found to experience some of the greatest quality-of-life benefits from football compared with higher income groups, specifically in their health and confidence levels.
In addition to social benefits, the direct economic value of grassroots football was found to be £2.1bn each year, while the report also found that the health benefits of playing regular grassroots football produces a cost saving of £43.5m per year to the NHS through reduced GP visits alone.
While at a national level grassroots football contributes £10.8bn in social and economic value, this equates to almost £560 million in Lancashire, based on the amount of football played in the county.
Despite this value, only one in three grass pitches are of adequate quality across the country, while one in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality. This is why The FA is in the middle of a nationwide analysis, creating demand-led assessments of the pitch supply needs of every local authority in England through the creation of local football facility plans.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Commercial and Football Development Officer, said: “This research demonstrates the significant impact that grassroots football has on every part of the country and is a tribute to the great work that Lancashire FA do every day.”
“We’ve always known that amateur football makes a huge contribution to our economy and society in so many ways and it’s fantastic to have that proved now.”
Simon Gerrard, Lancashire FA FA CEO, said: “This report highlights the incredible impact grassroots football has on our society here in Lancashire.”
“The grassroots game contributes nearly £560 million into our economy, as well as having a direct correlation to improving people’s physical and mental health.”
“The adult game has suffered in recent times, but Lancashire FA is relentless in looking at ways to improve everyone’s experience of grassroots football, with a continued vision of making it a game for everyone.”
“This is emphasised through key areas such as our current facility investment programme through the Football Foundation, where over £22 million has been invested into facilities and small grant schemes in Lancashire over the course of the last 20 years.”
“We have further exciting plans over the next 12 months, thank to our new programme for facility investment which will aim to vastly increase the funding and availability of all-weather pitches across Lancashire, as well as continued assistance in pitch maintenance.”
“This FA study into adult grassroots football is just the tip of the iceberg. As we move forward, we are looking to work with many new partners in understanding the benefits the youth grassroots game has on our society. Given the thousands of children taking part in the National Game across Lancashire, we envisage this area to have an even larger impact on the social and economic value to our society.”