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 around £522m across the West Midlands, based on the amount of football played in the county; the second highest of any other region in the country.
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 Birmingham County 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.”
Kevin Shoemake, Birmingham County FA CEO, said: “We often talk about the power of football and the value it has to the people who watch, support, play or are involved in the game in any way – and these new figures released by The FA prove just how valuable the grassroots game is to people within Birmingham, Warwickshire and the Black Country. The positive impact proves that the national game is far more than just kicking a ball about when you consider the social and economic impact across the region which includes business growth and personal health and wellbeing.
“Whilst supporting and developing all aspects and formats of the game, one of the biggest challenges we have to tackle is the current negative impact that the game has on our environment which includes travel and waste; especially the high volume of single use plastics within the game – something the Birmingham County FA is actively looking to change.”
To read the full report, click here