THE Football Association has 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 eight 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 a year, which equates to around £172m in Suffolk based on the amount of football played in the county, 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 around £172m in Suffolk 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 Suffolk 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.”
Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal said: “Over the past two seasons, Suffolk clubs have successfully attracted c£3m of external funding to support projects which ultimately provide a better environment in which to play.
“I hope this report encourages increased investment in order to sustain and grow adult football participation in the county.
“Ultimately the grassroots game is reliant on people, largely voluntarily, dedicating their personal time and resource to running leagues, clubs and teams. This research highlights the gratitude we should all have for those who make the game possible.”