Football in the UK has its roots in working class communities across the country. Many football clubs across the country were founded to help the communities in which they are situated. Football has many positive impacts on communities, these sports clubs are not just the major leagues, but many more grassroots football clubs exist in communities across the country.
The future of grassroots football is under threat due to the covid pandemic. Many small football clubs rely solely on ticket sales to survive, without this many are struggling financially. Funding has been found to help out grassroots football throughout the pandemic, but for some this is not enough, or too late. An estimated 12% of the 43’000 grassroots football clubs in the UK may cease to exist as a result of the pandemic.
This community based, grassroots football is essential for developing young players, it also has huge benefits of people’s physical, social and mental well being. Throughout the pandemic football clubs and fans have come together to help the communities deal with the impacts of Covid, they have been essential and always have been.
Money not fans
In the higher tiers of football in the UK, big business has taken over and this has changed the game. Plans for the so called “big six” clubs in England to join a European Super League were quickly brought down following widespread condemnation from fans, players and managers. The proposed plans would have involved clubs with wealthy owners buying a place in a closed league. The motivation for this would be to make more money, not for the benefit of football fans.
A massive gulf exists between football clubs owned by wealthy individuals or corporations, and grassroots community football. Grassroots football is being left behind as this gap grows ever bigger. After the pandemic many of these grassroots clubs will struggle to fully recover from the devastating impact it has had on their finances. Action will be needed to ensure we do not see a wave of grassroots football clubs disappearing altogether from communities across the country.
Football belongs to the fans
Now that the European Super League has collapsed the need to reclaim the game from top to bottom could not be more relevant. Football belongs to the fans and they should have more say in the way things operate. Fans, players, club staff and the local community should be more involved in decision making, ensuring the connections with communities around them are strengthened.
All major sports clubs, not just football and the facilities they have need to be made accessible to the whole community. The cost of tickets should be affordable and capped if necessary. If fans and community can be put before profit, the game can be returned to the communities in which they were built to help.
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