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Switch Before Pitch

Over the weekend we launched a new initiative called Switch Before Pitch with the help of former England goalkeeper and environmentalist David James.

The aim of Switch Before Pitch is simple: To save thousands of grassroots football clubs – who have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis - from extinction. Much like our Energy High Five movement (which has already helped over two million households save money by being more energy efficient), Switch Before Pitch will encourage grassroots football players and their families to be more energy efficient, save money and help to keep their clubs afloat.

Underpinning the campaign is our State of Play Report which highlights the dire situation that thousands of grassroots clubs are facing (with a staggering 4000 at risk of extinction) and the impact this will have on young people and communities across the UK.

We’ve already seen that this has serious issue has struck a chord across the UK, with Good Morning Britain, Sky Sports News, Sky News, and BBC News featuring the campaign and its ambassador, David James, whilst the national print media has also given Switch Before Pitch it’s support too.

What is Switch Before Pitch?

We’ve supported grassroots football over the last 4 years and understand the vital role they play in communities across the UK. We’re now taking action to support them further as they face the biggest crisis they have ever faced. Based on the findings of our State of Play report, which you can read HERE, a staggering 10% of the UK’s 40,000-plus grassroots football clubs said they will struggle to survive the next 12 months as a direct result of the coronavirus crisis.

Switch Before Pitch – with former Liverpool and England goalkeeper David James as its ambassador - will draw attention to their plight, give them a voice and persuade key stakeholders to act.

But we also want clubs to help themselves, that’s why we’re focusing on energy saving – much like our already established EnergyHigh5 movement.

We want to educate clubs and players and show them how much kit they could afford if they follow tips like switching the heating down one degree. This saves £80 a year per players and £880 per team – enough to buy a football strip (£250), training tops (£180), first aid bag (£25), ten training footballs (£80), two goals (£250) and team trophies (£95).

Why is it so important?

We’ll hand you over to Switch Before Pitch ambassador, David James:

“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.”

And it’s not just about children playing football and clubs hoping to discover the next Raheem Sterling or Harry Kane. It’s about the health benefits – physical and mental – of regular exercise, the social element, learning life skills and pitching in to help each other out.

What’s more, millions of adults benefit from the above too – whether they’re enthusiastic amateur players, or just keen for some social interaction in the bar while watching a game.

For us, Switch Before Pitch is simply an extension of the great work already undertaken in our partnerships with football clubs and community organisations across the UK.

How can I get involved?

If you’re a parent with children at a grassroots club, check out the Switch Before Pitch website page HERE to see how you can back the campaign. The same goes if you play adult football. Even if you don’t, what’s stopping you from giving a little bit of your time to help a vital community asset?


4,000 Football Clubs Fear Closure

We can reveal today the shocking reality the UK’s grassroots football clubs are facing due to the pandemic - with 10% fearing closure in a matter of months. We commissioned a new ‘State of Play’ report speaking to football clubs across the UK, to understand the impact of Covid-19 on grassroots football.

We’ve teamed up with former England star David James to unveil the report, which paints a startling picture in these unprecedented times - laying bare the impact these clubs’ closure will have on players, communities and families who rely on them.

The report also reiterates the numerous benefits, the UK’s 40,000+ grassroots clubs have on mental and physical health - and the high cost that the state will pay, should thousands disappear.

As a leading supporter of British football from grassroots to Premier League – we want to shine a light on the plight of the UK’s amateur clubs and support them when they need it most. We’re aiming to help teams, players and communities save millions of pounds by cutting their energy wastage, as part of our Switch Before Pitch awareness campaign.

Our State of Play Report reveals the financial impact of Covid-19 on grassroots football clubs, with clubs’ incomes reducing by 46% on average, with one in 10 clubs losing 90-100% of their income. Parents’ financial struggles will get in the way of players returning to clubs too, as 17% say they can’t afford equipment such as football boots, and 20% say they can’t afford to return their child to their grassroots club at all.

At the centre of the campaign is a list of free and simple ways to save energy, and what those savings equate to in terms of new football equipment, such as bibs, footballs, and cones through to team strips and new goals.

Paul Kirton, Founder of Team Grassroots, played an important part in designing the education assets for the campaign. He explains what level of hardship grassroots teams are facing today and why so many will embrace the campaign:

“The two main areas of focus for grassroots clubs today is safeguarding in a new Covid-19 world, and fundraising, to make up for all the lost income, and extra investment in safeguarding measures they have been required to make.”
“Fundraising and saving money isn’t just the responsibility of the club bosses or the team manager. Players and supporters know this only too well, but sometimes it’s hard to identify ways to save or fundraise – this campaign will ensure every club has inspiration, ideas and ways to save at their fingertips.”

Our CEO and conservationist, Bill Bullen, had this to say on the link between energy and grassroots clubs:

“The report provides a snapshot of the fact that although many clubs were finding it tough to survive before Covid-19, this latest storm has created a near-impossible challenge for too many of them. All individuals and communities are experiencing the impact of Covid-19 – as an energy company that uses technology to help households take control of their energy usage, we are seeing the struggles first-hand and doing everything in our power to help.

“So, it’s really important to save money where we can. The cheapest, and greenest, energy is the energy we don’t use, and we hope the Switch Before Pitch campaign enables today’s households, and bill payers of the future - to save money by using and wasting less energy. This will free up finances for the things that people love most – in this case, football!”

Want more info on Switch Before Pitch? You can visit the campaign page here.


We're Powering A New Era At Brentford FC

We’re delighted to announce that we’re the new front-of-shirt sponsor for Brentford FC.

We joined forces with The Bees back in 2016 and have strengthened our relationship with them ahead of the new season by becoming Principal Partner. Our logo will across the kit for both the men’s and women’s teams – as well as Brentford B.

But that’s not all. As the club leave Griffin Park – their home of 116 years – to move into the stunning Brentford Community Stadium, we’ll play a central role, powering a new era by providing the energy supply at their new home.

Central to the partnership is our ‘Energy High 5’ movement, which enables every household to use around £163 less energy each year by making five simple and free changes at home. Anyone can sign up to start saving, without being a customer. For more information, please click here.

Brentford Chief Executive, Jon Varney, said:

“Utilita Energy has been a loyal member of our partnership family since 2016, so I am delighted that they have strengthened their ties with us to become our Official Principal Partner. Utilita are an ambitious and fast-growing company who share our values as an organisation.

“Our enhanced partnership with Utilita shows that Brentford are providing its sponsors with a platform to grow their organisations. Our increased fan base and new stadium along with the success we are enjoying on the pitch are all important factors in broadening our appeal to commercial partners. We are looking forward to developing our partnership with Utilita during the first season at our new home and are proud to introduce them as our Principal Partner.”

Jem Maidment, our Chief Marketing Officer, added:

“Playing a part in Brentford’s ‘new era’ as they take residency at their new stadium is really very exciting for Utilita – such a unique opportunity.  Having toured the new stadium, I can see there are many sustainability measures in place, both on and off the pitch, which will massively reduce the amount of energy the club uses.

“In the current climate, we are really grateful to have the chance to communicate Utilita’s Energy High 5 message to Brentford fans, which will help every household save around £163 a year on their energy costs – that’s the equivalent to a youth season ticket and the odd burger at half time!”


We’ve partnered with Whitehawk FC!

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve partnered with Whitehawk FC on the first day of their 75th anniversary year.

The partnership will see the Utilita logo proudly displayed on Whitehawks’s 75th anniversary home shirt, which has been designed by talented British visual artist, David Shrigley.

Just as Pride Month 2020 kicks off, the partnership also sees us sponsor the club’s affiliated LGBTQ+ team, the Rainbow Rovers, which is managed by transgender author and politician, Dr Sophie Cook.

What’s more, we’ll be working with the club’s ‘Hawks in the Community’ programme and ongoing partnership with The Prince’s Trust, which raises awareness of the game in the local area and brings children face-to-face with the club’s footballers who demonstrate their training skills.

Our Chief Marketing Officer, Jem Maidment, had this to say:

“What better day to announce our partnership with Whitehawk than on the club’s 75th anniversary and the first day of Pride Month.

“We are committed to grassroots football and clubs which make a difference, so teaming up with The Hawks is a very natural fit for us.

“It’s also exciting to be promoting greater inclusivity with the Rainbow Rovers as we look to support the LGBTQ+ community in East Sussex and beyond.”

Whitehawk FC Chairman, Andy Schofield, added:

“This is a great way to launch our 75th anniversary season. I’d like to thank Utilita Energy for their commitment to our club during these difficult times. When we finally return to playing football, it will be great to see the team take the field in the new shirt, which is a modern take on our original kit from 1945.”

Whilst Head of Hawks Commercial and Marketing, Kevin Miller, comments:

“At a time when football is trying to find a way back to being part of our lives again, we are delighted that an established national brand such as Utilita, which has a long and successful history of football partnerships, has recognised our work and will help enhance our message of ‘Inclusion within Football’, driving a new, young, vibrant and diverse audiences to The TerraPura Ground.”

Central to the new partnership is our Energy High 5 movement, which is aiming to help 5 million households save £163 by using less energy by making five simple and free changes at home. Anyone can sign up to start saving, without being a Utilita customer.


Save Energy. Get Kit.

Join former international footballer David James to help your grassroots football club save money, make money, and win with Utilita’s Switch Before Pitch campaign.

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