New report finds 28% of football clubs must use equipment beyond normal levels of wear and tear.

New research conducted by football equipment retailer FORZA has launched its 2024 Grassroots Report, showcasing just a few of the struggles that are affecting our football clubs across the country. 

The report is representative of an estimated 6000 participants from level six and below (including National League North and National League South) across England and Wales, with clubs revealing the true state of the game and the challenges that they face daily with lack of funding. 

Andy Hurford, Chairman, Axminster Football Club 

“Finance is the biggest challenge, obtaining enough income throughout the year to keep the club running. Winter training is a massive cost to the club, there should be more help in obtaining grants for all-weather training pitches for clubs of a certain size. 

Another challenge is to keep players and members interested when the matches have been regularly postponed. Also, extra 3G hire for match days has stretched the club finances to breaking point”.

Key Findings of the report:

  • 7 in 10 clubs feel they lack sufficient funding for their activities with 81% of clubs renting pitches reporting price increases of at least 5%.
  • 28% of clubs said that they must use equipment beyond normal levels of wear and tear.
  • Bad weather is the biggest threat to match cancellations, with 92% of clubs affected by adverse conditions.
  • Nearly half (45%) of clubs rely on at least 11 volunteers to keep their clubs running

As part of the survey, FORZA also asked other key club staff to tell us about the biggest challenges facing their teams.

A spokesperson for the FA spoke of their continued ambition to keep supporting grassroots clubs: “The FA recognise the challenges faced by grassroots leagues and clubs across the country following this season’s exceptional weather conditions. Our focus and ambition across grassroots football in England is to transform grass pitch quality and deliver further 3G pitches to improve player experience and ensure that more games are played as originally scheduled.”

The report also found that:

  • 92% of the clubs that FORZA surveyed had suffered because of adverse weather conditions, resulting in several match cancellations which in turn gives clubs a stacked fixture list, putting even more pressure on finances and volunteers. 
  • Over half (53%) of clubs rent their pitches, and 29% of them revealed that their rent had gone up by at least 16% this season which isn’t helped by postponements. 
  • Almost half of the clubs depend on at least 11 volunteers to keep things maintained

In a bid to ease the burden on grassroots clubs, the Head of the Football Association of Wales (FAW) recently said he would “welcome grassroots leagues wanting to trial playing games in the summer”. With participation levels increasing by 69%, this move, if implemented, could further strengthen the game and form a blueprint for each nation within the UK.

To check out a full breakdown of the 2024 Grassroots Report, you can view the study via the following link: