Posted March 10, 2014 by John Baintree in News

Grassroots Football – Are we doing enough?

Grassroots Football - Are we doing enough
Grassroots Football - Are we doing enough

In June 2012 the Premier League announced that it had secured a three year deal for the TV rights to its competition worth a staggering £3.018billion pound over three years. The deal between Sky and BT makes the competition the richest in the world.

So our national game seems set to have a secure and healthy future, or does it? Consider one very simple point. Every British player in the premier League started playing footie with his mates at grassroots level. Without coaching at this level there is no way of ensuring that the youth of today grow into the World Cup winners of tomorrow, so how effective are the grassroots arrangements in place today.

What is needed for the beautiful game to flourish in the UK – and hopefully see that elusive coming home of a certain trophy? Well, coaching seems to be pretty high on the agenda. Youth coaches are an all-important, try to imagine GCSE success at school with too few teachers – see what I mean. So have a look at these figures.  In England there are a reported 1,161 UEFA A level coaches, some number but then ask what Germany and Spain have at the same level. In Germany, 5,500 coaches and in Spain a whopping 12,720!  Now ask yourself which two European nations regularly top the table at a national level. At a more senior level of coaching the picture is disturbingly similar. The Pro licence level sees England with 203 coaches, Germany with 1,000 plus and Spain, once again top of the list with 2,140. And they say every picture tells a story.

But what of the local clubs? It doesn’t matter how many coaches you have, if there is no thriving grassroots club program then there’s nothing for your coaches to do.  A recent poll by Club Website of grass roots clubs uncovered a disturbing picture. The poll was 3,000 strong and highlighted that 75% of amateur teams are finding the current financial climate difficult to manage. Almost half said it was proving hard to raise sufficient funds to break even while further27% claimed to be only getting by.

It seems incredulous that with such eye watering numbers arising from TV rights deals over the next three years, the premier league and the F.A. are not investing more at the grassroots levels. Currently investing £1.1m annually in youth development this is a game that needs to be significantly raised but is unlikely to be against the backdrop of ever spiralling wage costs for the P.L. clubs.