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Football Foundation
TV's Ben Shephard welcomes new figures showing 30 million hours of sport were played at Football Foundation facilities last year

TV’s Ben Shephard welcomes new figures showing 30 million hours of sport were played at Football Foundation facilities last year

Date published: 26/01/2016
Annual Review Infographic - Ben Shephard Quote
  • The UK’s largest sports charity today published its Annual Review, which reveals an average increase in football participation of 7% last season across all sites it has invested in.
  • Multi-sport participation increased by an average of 8%.


The UK’s largest sports charity – the Football Foundation – today published its Annual Review, which evidences the impact achieved from its targeted investment into grassroots sport.

The Review provides analysis of the funding awarded, projects delivered, outcomes achieved and explains how its advanced delivery systems is used effectively to target investment into the country’s local sports infrastructure over the last 12 months.

The Foundation delivers investment on behalf of its core Funding Partners – the Premier League, The FA and the Government/Sport England, as well as other partners, such as Barclays Bank and the Mayor of London/GLA.

The Review provides evidence that over the last season there was an average increase in football activity of 7% at facilities whose capacity and quality have been enhanced as a result of Football Foundation investment. At those same sites, there was also an average participation increase of 8% across all sports (cricket; rugby; netball; etc.) over the same period.

Nearly 30 million hours of sport were played at Foundation-funded facilities during the course of the 2014/15 season; 811,767 people played regularly (defined as at least once a week) at those facilities last year, and 810,711 took part in one-off events.

The findings were welcomed by Ben Shephard, presenter of ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday, who is an Ambassador of the Football Foundation and a keen footballer himself. Ben said, “I have seen first-hand the massive impact Football Foundation facilities have on local communities.”

In the last 12 months, the Foundation has invested £18 million into 712 grassroots sports projects worth £47 million. This translates into 44 new third generation (3G) artificial grass pitches (AGPs), 46 new properly-drained natural grass pitches and 49 new changing pavilions, as well as many other smaller, critically needed grassroots infrastructure projects. 

The Foundation’s key achievements from the last year outlined in the Annual Review:

  • 811,767 regular sporting users at Foundation-funded facilities.
  • 810,711 people playing sport in one-off events.
  • 7% average growth in the number of people playing football at Foundation-funded facilities [1].
  • 8% growth in the number of people who played other sports at those same sites [1].
  • 29,855,111 hours of sporting activity at Foundation-funded facilities.
  • 23,827 coaching qualifications gained at those facilities.
  • 111,561 new people playing sport at the facilities.


The Football Foundation and the network of County FAs work together with applicants and other local stakeholders to create a five-year Football Development Plan (FDP) for each and every 3G AGP. The FDP includes a timetable of weekly hour-to-hour use and targets for the creation of new teams and leagues.

Additionally, every 3G AGP must also have a robust business plan which includes the provision of a sinking fund for the facility to be resurfaced at the end of its serviceable life. This means the pitches are self-sufficient and there is no reliance on local government subsidy to maintain them through their life.  

The Review also outlines the benefits of the Football Foundation Delivery System, which has been incrementally developed over the last 15 years. It is a facilities investment capability that combines a sustainability focus, impartiality, experienced staff and a through-life approach to ensure our Funding Partners receive the highest return on their investment.

That track record of delivering facilities meant that the Football Foundation Delivery System was chosen by Barclays Spaces for Sports and the Mayor of London’s Sports Facilities Fund to invest money for their respective community sport programmes, each of which are detailed in the Review.

88,000 people play 30 different sports every week at Barclays Spaces for Sports sites across the country, and the programme has won ten major national and international awards over the past 10 years. At the 104 Mayor of London-funded sports sites in the capital, 67,546 people take part in 29 different sports each week.

Speaking about the impact figures contained in the Football Foundation Annual Review, Ben Shephard said: “I have seen first-hand the massive impact Football Foundation facilities have on local communities. To think that last year those facilities were used for 30 million hours is just incredible. Football participation is up on average 7% and multi-sport activity 8%, figures that speak for themselves. It clearly indicates the way the Football Foundation funds and supports sports infrastructure is not only working but crucially is helping to create something we so desperately need, a more active population.

“None of this would be possible without The Premier League, The FA and the Government. As a direct result of their collaboration and investment through the Football foundation in the last 12 months 44 new 3G pitches have been created across the country, many of which have formed strong links with their local professional clubs. You cannot under estimate how important these facilities are to the communities they serve and for that, and their continued support and investment they all deserve huge credit.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Football Foundation uses 16 years of facility investment experience to ensure that every penny of our Funding Partners’ investment is directed as efficiently and as effective as possible into where it is most needed and where it is going to achieve the greatest effect.

“This Annual Review demonstrates the scale of the impact that investment from the Premier League, The FA and the Government via Sport England is having at the grassroots of the game – where people play for the simple love of the game and as a means of staying fit and healthy. This is demonstrated by the 811,767 regular people now playing sport at Football Foundation-funded facilities.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Premier League, The FA, the Government and Sport England for their generous investment, without which none of this would be possible. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners in our joint efforts to transform the grassroots sports facilities across the country.”  



For more information contact Niall Malone on 0345 345 4555 Ext: 4275 or niall.malone@footballfoundation.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Read the 2015 Football Foundation and the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) Annual Reviews, in full, by clicking through the following links:

[1] These figures are calculated by analysing the number of participants at a facility (that is still within its five-year development plan for growth), and comparing it to the previous year’s analysis of participation at that site.

Football Foundation

The Football Foundation was founded by the Premier League, The FA and the Government in 2000 to improve grassroots facilities, with aim of improving the quality of the experience of playing grassroots football, especially in deprived communities where health inequalities are the greatest and sports facility provision is the poorest; thereby, increasing the numbers of people participating in football and increasing the quality of skill levels. Since then the Foundation has awarded direct grants worth £546m and has secured an additional £779m in partnership funding.  This means more than £1.3bn has been invested into the grassroots game via the Football Foundation.

Since 2000 the Foundation has funded:

  • 2,278 facility projects with grants worth £431,338,990 (total project cost: £1,014,384,407)
  • 564 artificial grass pitches
  • 2,783 grass pitches
  • 927 changing facilities
  • 93 multi-use games areas (MUGAs).

Grow the Game

While the Foundation is predominantly focused on providing capital investment to develop community sports facilities, it is also responsible for delivering a highly effective revenue-based scheme aimed at helping clubs to increase their amount of teams and players. Funded by the Premier League and The FA, the Grow the Game scheme helps clubs to meet the essential costs of starting new teams.

Grants of up to £1,500 are available to support the development of each new team. Funding goes directly towards covering the cost of football kits, FA coaching courses, first aid kits, league entry and referees’ fees.

A particular emphasis was placed last year on increasing the number of teams and players from the following priority areas:

  • The Under-15 age bracket and above.
  • Girls’ and women’s sides of all ages.
  • Disability teams.
  • As a result 1,239 new teams have been created with 17,957 new footballers.

Football Stadia Improvement Fund


The Football Stadia Improvement Fund, which is the Football Foundation’s sister organisation, provides financial support to football clubs to improve the safety and comfort of their fans.  This Funding comes from the Premier League and ensures that much-needed ground improvement projects throughout the National Football League system can be undertaken.


“I have seen first-hand the massive impact Football Foundation facilities have on local communities.”

Ben Shephard

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