The recent spate of bad weather has had a significant adverse effect on grassroots sport fixtures this winter, according to a snapshot survey carried out by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
The findings show that football has been particularly affected, as has been reported on in today's Guardian along with case studies.
460 UK sports clubs were asked whether they had experienced any fixture cancellations since October 2013 due to bad weather. The results show that:
- 6 in 10 of grassroots sports clubs had fixtures cancelled this season as a result of bad weather affecting the pitches they play on.
- Out of the clubs who had cancelled fixtures this season, 45% experienced 3-7 weeks of cancelled fixtures and 34% of clubs experienced 7-13 weeks of cancelled fixtures.
- 38% of clubs said that cancelled fixtures could have been prevented with better drainage and 31% said they could have been prevented with a 3G/4G pitch.
- Only 18% of clubs said that their cancelled fixtures couldn’t have been avoided.
- Nearly 7 in 10 of respondents said that they experienced cancelled fixtures last season (2012-13), with 4 in 10 saying more fixtures were cancelled or about the same.
- Out of the respondents who said that they paid for pitch hire, 1 in 2 cubs said that their pitch hire costs had increased since last season, by an average of 11%.
Secretaries from 105 grassroots county football leagues across England were also surveyed. The results show that:
- 96% of grassroots football leagues had to cancel fixtures this season as a result of bad weather affecting the pitches they play on.
- 55% had to cancel 3-7 weeks of fixtures and 33% had to cancel 7-13 weeks of fixtures.
- Over the season so far, 56% of leagues have cancelled 55 individual fixtures or more this season due to bad weather.
- 6 out of 10 grassroots football leagues said that these fixture cancellations could have been avoided with better drainage or a 3G/4G pitch.
- 98% said that they experienced cancelled fixtures last season (2012-13), with 53% saying more fixtures were cancelled or about the same.
- Out of the respondents who said that they paid for pitch hire, 6 in 10 leagues said that their pitch hire costs had increased since last season by an average of 10%.
Andy Reed, chair of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said:
“Cancellations are unavoidable if your pitch is under a foot of water but in most of these cases smarter investment in maintenance or in more modern pitches would have allowed play to continue.
“We understand that many councils are under pressure from local funding cuts. But investment in sports facilities should be seen less as spending money to allow people to have a good time and more about making a long term investment in the health and wellbeing of communities.
“With the popularity of football and its reliance on pitch hire from local authorities, it looks like they are being particularly affected, with 6 in 10 grassroots football leagues having to cancel 55 fixtures or more this season.
“The lack of investment in facilities is now having a huge knock-on effect on participation. With sport under pressure to meet their participation targets or else have their funding cut, we need to think more creatively about how we can have a decent standard of outdoor facilities available to meet demand.”
For media enquiries, contact Libby Jellie on 020 7976 3933020 7976 3933/ 07834 726 22407834 726 224.
About the survey
The Sport and Recreation Alliance snaphost surveyed 460 sports clubs and 105 grassroots football leagues 10 questions between 21-24 March to find out whether they had experienced cancelled fixtures since October 2013 due to the recent spate of bad weather.