• Football

FA suffers £1.6m cut in funding for grassroots game

ESPN staff
March 27, 2014
The number of people playing football has dropped to 1.84 million from more than 2 million in 2006 © PA Photos

The FA has been warned it must "deliver results" after £1.6 million of its public funding for grassroots football was cut by Sport England.

The move came about after a fall in the number of people playing the game. Sport England cut a total of £2.8 million from football, golf, netball, hockey, mountaineering and rowing.

The number of people playing football since April last year has dropped by 100,000 to 1.84 million, down from more than 2 million in 2006.

The £1.6 million cut is just a fraction of the FA's overall turnover, which was £300 million in 2012. The FA distribute £43 million every year to grassroots projects.

"This is a serious message to the FA," said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price. "We've invested, over four years, £30 million of public money in the FA so they have a real responsibility to spend it wisely and deliver results.

"Taking £1.6 million away is a real sign they need to do something different and I think they will take it seriously."

FA general secretary Alex Horne admitted the cut in funding was "disappointing" and blamed poor weather as well as spiralling costs for the difficulties facing amateur clubs.

"It's naturally disappointing to learn that Sport England are cutting their funding to football, especially at a time when the challenges faced by the grassroots of our game are so acute," said Horne.

"It is especially disappointing as Sport England agreed and began funding our joint plan only in August last year and today's decision is based on measurement undertaken just two months later.

"It will not, however, deter the FA's continued extensive financial commitment to the grassroots of the game, of which this is only one element. Grassroots football is played on facilities almost exclusively owned and maintained by local authorities.

"A combination of severe weather, increased pitch hire costs and reduced maintenance spend has made this a very difficult time for clubs seeking to complete their fixtures and for individual players to value and enjoy regular football."

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