Football hubs secure future of the grassroots game

Liverpool City Council has secured a £20 million investment in grassroots football which will secure the future of the game in the city – at a time when the council faces huge pressures on its budget due to central Government cuts.

Read on for more information about the project….

BACKGROUND

Liverpool City Council were approached by the FA to discuss how best to preserve the local game in light of pressure on public budgets, which has seen the local authority lose 65 percent of its funding since 2010.

These discussions were aimed at identifying an alternative approach which would improve the quality of facilities and reduce public subsidy.

The benefits to Liverpool include new and affordable facilities – artificial pitches, improved grass pitches and changing; increased participation levels and improved health; major capital investment from professional game bodies and a potential long term saving as more play is concentrated on fewer pitches.

It aims to turn around the potential downward spiral of declining quality and falling participation towards better pitches, more people playing and new income to reinvest in facilities.

INVESTMENT

£20m is being invested in the city to create four new football hubs with £12.7m being invested by the FA, Premier League and Football Foundation and the remainder coming from the city council. The sites are:

• Jeffrey Humble Playing Field (Fazakerley)
• Heron Eccles Playing Field (Allerton)
• Jericho Lane Playing Field (Otterspool)
• Simpson Road (Woolton)

Each football hub will be floodlit, has three pitches (so 12 in total) and provide changing, classroom and catering facilities and will be used to host both formal league fixtures on weekends and recreational/informal games during the week.

CHARGING

Up to now, all junior football in Liverpool has been free of charge, with Liverpool one of a minority of local authorities not to implement a charging policy for junior football.

This current policy is not sustainable because income is needed to pay for maintaining and improving facilities.

The city council in partnership with the FA, County FA and Football Foundation have been talking with local leagues and clubs for approximately three years to agree the introduction of a charging policy.

A number of meetings have been held whereby leagues and clubs accepted that a charge should be introduced with effect from September 2018 following the significant investment being delivered in football in Liverpool.

On average a charge of 50p per game per child will be introduced across the four hubs and sites operated by the council – cheaper than other sporting activities such as swimming, gym sessions and badminton. Every single penny raised through these charges will be reinvested.

There is a flexible payment system and clubs can pay weekly, monthly or annually.

OTHER INVESTMENTS

The £20 million investment in the four hubs is in addition to almost £10 million spent on community football facilities in the last few years, including:

Gateacre School: £650k for a new 3G pitch
Wavertree: £350k for a new 3G pitch
Broadgreen School: £345k for a new 3G pitch

St John Bosco (Croxteth): £1m for new 3G pitch and ancillary facilities
Carr Lane East (Croxteth): £1.5m for new grass pitches and changing pavilion
Anfield Sports and Community Centre: £2.2m for new 3G pitch and ancillary facilities
Walton Hall Park: £350k for a new 3G pitch with the County FA
Jeffery Humble Playing Field: £850k for new changing pavilion
Bill Shankly Playing Field: £800k for a new changing pavilion
EFC Community Hub: £820k for new community facility
Archbishop Beck School: £350k for adaptations to sports hall to accommodate disability football

REACTION

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson

“We’ve lost 65 percent of our funding since 2010 and that means we’ve got to do things differently in order to secure the future of grassroots football in the city.

“Back in 2015 I met with Greg Dyke, the then chair of the FA, and secured a significant investment in helping us create new facilities.

“As a result, we are delivering four top quality all weather hubs that can be used all year round, maximising the number of games that can take place.

“But in order to make it sustainable, we have had to introduce a small charge – far lower than many other councils make – for all junior league clubs.

“This has been the subject of extensive discussions over three years with representatives from the Football Foundation, the County FA and the leagues. The vast majority of them fully accept the need for a charge because they recognise we have secured massive investment and that the money raised will be pumped back into maintaining and improving existing pitches across the city.

“The bottom line is that every other participation sport has some kind of fee for hiring a venue. It is down to clubs to decide whether to passport this charge on or absorb it into the existing subs which they charge parents.”

Martin Glenn, FA CEO

“After the success of our inaugural site in Sheffield last year, this is another positive step in helping football communities across the country.

“Liverpool is a real hotbed for the game at youth level. Crucially, this development means poor pitches, inadequate changing facilities and a battle against the elements to get fixtures completed each winter will be a thing of the past for everyone who uses it which underlines our commitment to providing football for all.”

David Woods, Chair of the Liverpool Grassroots Steering Group

“The addition of new state-of-the-art 3G pitches, pavilions and car parking will provide new facilities for everyone, allowing people to access football all year round across the city.

“Once construction has concluded, these four hub sites will provide high-quality facilities for grassroots clubs and leagues, who will be able to play football in a safe environment.

“Not only will these facilities be available for clubs during the week for training; at weekends they will allow for mini-soccer to be played in the morning, with youth and adult football able to be played in the afternoon.”

Dave Pugh, Chief Executive of the Liverpool County FA

“We have been working hard with the Liverpool Grassroots Steering Group, Liverpool City Council and The FA to develop this project, which will not only see a huge investment in the city for grassroots football, but will also provide opportunities to support grassroots football leagues, both junior and adult, by providing high-quality facilities for them to access for match days, and clubs for training during the week.

“The new facilities will also improve the access and quality of our coach education programmes, improve skill development of young players, allow more people to access football opportunities and ultimately change the way we support and deliver football in the city for the better.”

Categories: Health and sport. Tags: county fa, FA, hubs, and Liverpool. Tags: , , ,