The Football Association [The FA] has today launched a new report that explores the social and economic value of adult grassroots football in England.
With the game’s governing body investing over £1 million each week into the grassroots game to support the 8 million adults who regularly play football, it commissioned the report, which is the first of its kind for the FA, to set out the contribution of adult grassroots football to the nation’s economy and wellbeing.
The report found that regular grassroots football in England has a social wellbeing value of £8.7bn, with players reporting significantly higher levels of general health, confidence, motivation and trust compared with those who play other sports. Lower income groups in particular were found to experience some of the greatest quality-of-life benefits from football compared with higher income groups, specifically in their health and confidence levels.
In addition to social benefits, the direct economic value of grassroots football was found to be £2.1bn each year, while the report also found that the health benefits of playing regular grassroots football produces a cost saving of £43.5m per year to the NHS through reduced GP visits alone.
While at a national level grassroots football contributes £10.8bn in social and economic value, this equates to around £121m in Wiltshire, based on the amount of football played in the county.
Despite this value, only one in three grass pitches are of adequate quality across the country, while one in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality. This is why The FA is in the middle of a nationwide analysis, creating demand-led assessments of the pitch supply needs of every local authority in England through the creation of local football facility plans.
Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Commercial and Football Development Officer, said:
“This research demonstrates the significant impact that grassroots football has on every part of the country and is a tribute to the great work that Wiltshire FA do every day.
We’ve always known that amateur football makes a huge contribution to our economy and society in so many ways and it’s fantastic to have that proved now.”
Oliver Selfe, Wiltshire FA CEO said: “Wiltshire FA works hard to provide opportunities to play, volunteer, referee and coach football in our community. We see the powerful and positive effect of football every day and this research from The FA demonstrates the wider social and economic impact that grassroots football has in Wiltshire.
As well as the economic benefits it is great to see the contribution grassroots football has to health and well-being. As a sport, football creates opportunities to become active; it also boosts self-esteem and can benefit mental health. The game instills teamwork, leadership and respect and it offers social opportunities, giving people a sense of belonging.
This research illustrates the need for us to work with stakeholders, both in the public and private sector, to continue to use the power of grassroots football to contribute to our local economy and social well-being.”
Read the full report here
 This is estimated using the Wellbeing Valuation method, measured as the equivalent amount of income a person would need to make up for the wellbeing they gain from playing regular football.