FA to focus on football facilities with local authorities

Tuesday 18 Mar 2014
FA General Secretary Alex Horne

Alex Horne says The FA will continue to build on the £400m investment in grassroots football since 2008 by working with local authorities on a facility plan that will keep people playing the game across the country.

The FA’s General Secretary spoke to Sky Sports News this morning after the satellite broadcaster unveiled their grassroots football survey results which pinpointed decent facilities as being key to continual participation.

Horne said: "The number one issue of people we speak to is the quality and availability of facilities so Sky’s survey results are consistent with FA research."

Over 80 per cent of grassroots football facilities are owned by local authorities and Horne said The FA was in talks with council organisations about their future football provision.

He added: "We’re working really closely with 17 local authorities and trying to work out what their pressure points are.

"We know their sporting spend is discretionary and they’re under pressure to cut their budgets so they’re thinking about ways in which they can save money because it’s costing them money to keep grassroots pitches in good condition week in, week out."

Horne believes one solution is building more artificial pitches for community use: "We also know of course that grassroots pitches only really get you four or five hours of football a week and increasingly we’re seeing people being comfortable both training and playing on artificial 3G and 4G surfaces.

"We know we’ve only got 600 decent quality artificial pitches in the country and we’re building on that with the Football Foundation, who are building 24 pitches per year, and we think there’s room for a big increase in number of artificial pitches there."

The FA also has plans to work with three local authorities on a pilot project that will see key organisations take stock of football provision in the wider community.

Horne explained: "We are talking to clubs and schools and actually asking them 'how many pitches do you need and where do you need them'?

"We’ll try and come up with a solution which is different to what we’ve got now and will be different for every local authority.

"We believe that there’s a solution for every local authority that sees pitches in new ownership, and a new mix of pitches across artificial and grass.

"That way we can deliver the right facilities across the country for people to keep playing football.

"That’s clearly going to take a lot of time but also goodwill and we’re getting that goodwill.

"I think local authorities are under pressure because they need to cut cost but I think they also recognise how important football is to local communities."


By Matt Phillips