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Football Foundation
Football Foundation
Research to maximise the impact of our investment



The Football Foundation is committed to continually improving our understanding of how the investments are benefiting grassroots football throughout the country and routinely commissions independent research measuring impact that we have not previously had knowledge of.   

The research pieces below are intended to be used both internally and externally to better understand the benefits of building a new facility that have otherwise not previously been possible to measure.  The Foundation has been at the forefront of understanding what makes a local facility truly 'sustainable', what the benefits are to the local community when building a facility and who exactly is benefitting from grants that we award.

Key graphs

Macroeconomic Benefits Of Investment in Grassroots Facilities - Front page image.PNG

Investment in construction drives economic growth and regeneration at the national and local level. The building and operation of grass roots sports facilities also stamps its own unique economic footprint in terms of growth, jobs and quality of life provided to the local community. The Football Foundation has asked the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) to quantify the total economic impacts of their investments in new and improved grass roots facilities. In order to achieve this, Cebr have used actual and projected data on the economic activities which are contracted to build and operate facilities. This report summarises the findings of our study, quantifying the total direct and multiplier impacts of constructing local grass roots sports facilities.

Key findings include:

  • Every pound spent on grass roots facilities generates an additional £1.53 for the UK economy.
  • Every pound awarded by the Foundation on grass roots facilities generates an additional £7.73 for the UK economy.

  • Regeneration impacts and better health outcomes go beyond the initial direct and multiplier impacts


Sustainability Research - Front Page Image.PNG

The Football Foundation commissioned independent research by the University of Brighton in April 2011 to explore what it is that makes a Facility Sustainable. The key objective was to gain an independent understanding, and clarify notions, of sustainability in relation to Foundation and Barclays Spaces for Sports facility projects. As a direct result of the research, the Football Foundation developed a Sustainability Matrix, which is used to evaluate a project’s sustainability through its lifetime. The Sustainability Matrix measures a range of criteria from governance and finance, to partnerships and community ownership, to provide a detailed, objective analysis of a project. 

Ensuring Sustainability post award has become a vital component in the way prospective Football Foundation projects are assessed and further understanding of the definition of 'sustainability' was at the forefront of commissioning this piece. Further exploration of the components of sustainability have continued to developed internally and the Foundation have developed the notions as part of their Performance Assessment Matrix.

Artifical Grass Pitch Users - Front Page Image.PNG

The Foundation invests a significant proportion of its funding into artificial grass pitches, as these facilities provide the biggest potential for high quality football provision due to the number of hours they can be used per week. To help ensure that this investment is targeted most wisely, the Foundation commissioned the University of Brighton to undertake research into Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) projects, with a particular focus on those located in areas of high IMD. Findings from this research will be used to inform future policy and procedures in relation the new Foundation funding deal.

A key component of this research was an online survey completed by players and coaches about their experiences of using artificial pitches, at both Foundation and non-Foundation sites. 700 people completed this survey, which gave a large sample size from which to inform the research.

Key findings include:

  • On average, Football Foundation AGPs scored 4.4 out of 5, indicating the quality of the facilities we build.
  • Small sided football proved to be the most popular type of football played at AGPs (75% of usage).
  • 62% or respondents prefer using AGPs for training over other surface types.


The Forest Sports Zone case study
Throughout the year each of the projects we fund attend Support Days and return surveys so that we have enough information to be sure the site is progressing as we would expect. In order to showcase some of the very best projects we have funded we have collated some of this information into case studies so you can see just what an 'exceptional' project looks like. 

In order to select which projects we will do case studies on we first look to see that they have:

  • High usage figures (over 1,500 'regular' users)
  • Community engagement
  • Sustainable Football and Finance Development plans


Player and Coach Survey
A survey of Football players and coaches was sent to clubs and promoted to players at both Foundation-funded and non-Foundation-funded sites in June 2015 so we could see how people rated the pitches we've funded compared to other facilities around the country. By understanding who the site users are and what they value about playing on quality facilities we can ensure that these issue are taken into consideration when we award out grants. What we found out was that:

  • 91% of facilities funded by the Football Foundation are satisfactory, good or very good
  • 88% of users state they their health is good, very good or excellent