David James launches report as 4,000 Grassroots clubs fear closure

Former England goalkeeper David James has partnered with UK energy supplier, Utilita, to produce a report revealing the detrimental impact that COVID-19 has had on grassroots football.


The damning report uncovered how up to 4,000 clubs could face having to permanently close after the nationwide lockdown caused financial difficulties for businesses and the general public.

Pay as You Go (PAYG) energy provider Utilita, both created and funded the report as part of their year-long campaign ‘Switch Before Pitch’, aimed at helping amateur clubs, players and communities to save money by cutting their energy wastage. The campaign provides a free list of ways to save energy and what these savings equate to.

Former England star and passionate environmentalist David James, who is the ambassador of the campaign by Utilita after switching his lifestyle to become eco-friendlier, explained the importance of this campaign not just to football but the wider community too.

“The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said only this week that ‘sports clubs are the life and soul of our communities’ – and he is right. Grassroots football clubs play such an important role and everything that can be done to support their existence right now, should be done.

“This campaign will help clubs focus on saving and raising money, but most importantly, it will educate everyone it reaches about the simple ways we can all use less energy wherever we are, which will impact our pockets, and most importantly, our planet.

“Using tangible examples of what saving energy can buy, such as bibs, or a pair of new goals, is smart – poor or missing equipment can mean the difference between a game being played or not at grassroots level, so affording everything a team needs is crucial.”

Disclosed within the investigation was how the clubs income had been reduced on average by 46 per cent, with one in 10 clubs losing as much as 90-100 per cent of their incomes.

Tougher times could still be yet to come for grassroots football, as it was also revealed that parents facing financial struggles themselves could prevent players from returning to the clubs, with 17 per cent stating that they couldn’t afford the necessary equipment, including football boots, shinpads and kits for example. 20 per cent went as far as to say they wouldn’t be able to afford for their children to return at all.

Paul Kirton, founder of Team Grassroots said: “The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said only this week that ‘sports clubs are the life and soul of our communities’ – and he is right. Grassroots football clubs play such an important role and everything that can be done to support their existence right now, should be done.

“This campaign will help clubs focus on saving and raising money, but most importantly, it will educate everyone it reaches about the simple ways we can all use less energy wherever we are, which will impact our pockets, and most importantly, our planet.

“Using tangible examples of what saving energy can buy, such as bibs, or a pair of new goals, is smart – poor or missing equipment can mean the difference between a game being played or not at grassroots level, so affording everything a team needs is crucial.”

There are roughly 43,000 grassroots football clubs across the UK, distributed with 38,000 in England , 2,500 in Scotland, 2,000 in Northern Ireland and 500 in Wales.


Author: Jake Wilkin



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