Utilita news / 28/09/2020

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.