Male 11v11: Teams at Risk
Adult Football is changing and traditional Saturday and Sunday grassroots league football has experienced a down turn in the numbers of teams participating across the country, an estimated 4,000 teams have been lost since 2008/09. The reasons behind this downturn are diverse but it is clear that if a team withdraws from a competition the most sustainable way to keep people playing regularly disappears with them.
Early Warning Signs for Teams at Risk
FA research has identified a number of warning signs that might indicate that a team is struggling and at risk of folding:
- Repeated cancellation of fixtures
- Lack of contact/response with the league/CFA
- Poor maintenance of an owned home ground
- Excessive number of administration fines
- Poor disciplinary record
- Suspension of team or individuals resulting from the late payment of fines
- Poor organisation on match days
- Late Kick offs
- Host Pub/Business Closing down
- Loss of a playing venue
- Resignation/retirement of Key Volunteers
- Large numbers of registered players but struggling to field teams
Often, those best placed to detect these warning signs are the League in which the teams operate and the match officials that officiate at the clubs. An Early Warning System form designed to assess the level of risk of each team against the headings above has been sent to every adult league in the county. It is vital that league committees take time to consult with relevant members and complete the form with the information requested. The sooner we are made aware of teams in trouble the better chance we have of providing support to keep them going.
It is generally agreed that many teams experience difficulties at certain times of the season - around the start of the season and in the run up to Christmas appear to be particular ‘pinch points’. With this in mind Hampshire FA have circulated the Early Warning System in October and will seek an update after Christmas.
What Support can Hampshire FA Offer?
The support available can include but is not limited to what is listed below. If you think there is additional support we can offer to clubs/teams please contact us.
- The Hampshire FA Club Development Fund can be used to support teams looking to sustain their existence, particularly to deliver player recruitment programmes, eg. The setting up of a college-club link.
NB: Fundamentally grassroots football has to be sustainable and providing a grant that only postpones the inevitable for a couple of weeks is clearly not the answer. However if the club are having to deal with an exceptional cost or have a viable rescue plan that might for instance lead to the influx of new players in the short term then Hampshire FA might consider this to offer an acceptable level of risk.
- In some circumstance Hampshire FA are willing to offer clubs Payment Plans to enable clubs to spread debt re-payments over a longer period of time. Hampshire FA may also be able to broker similar deals with Leagues within the County.
- Many grassroots teams tend to recruit from a fairly small group of people – friends and their immediate friends, family and work colleagues. Hampshire FA can extend the range of this recruitment by using our Communication Channels (website, facebook, twitter, noticeboard, local news, etc.) to deliver your message to the wider football community.
- Hampshire FA is keen to work with adult clubs to setup Youth Club Links with suitable clubs in the local facility which will aid the transition of players from youth to adult football. The Club Development Fund (see above) can also be used to facilitate this.
- Football teams are often unsure of where they can find new players, Hampshire FA work with and deliver football in a variety of different organisations - Universities, Colleges, Recreational/Drop In Centres - across the county and can offer clubs access to these players and where necessary signpost them to a team in need.
- Sometimes in extreme circumstances Merging Clubs is the only viable option to keep the players involved in the game. Hampshire FA can identify suitable partnerships and facilitate the process; again the Club Development Fund (see above) can be used for financial support if necessary.
- Hampshire FA offer a variety of Workshops across the season that can help new and existing volunteers with the administrative burden of running a club and ensure they are making the most of the tools available to them, eg. Whole Game System.
NB: If there are any areas that you believe we do not cover, please let us know and we will look into expanding our provision.
- If the workshops on offer are not appropriate for your clubs or you feel individual support would suit them better Hampshire FA offer 1-2-1 support around specific areas, eg. Affiliation, and are also keen to work leagues and clubs to setup Mentoring/Buddying relationships to help volunteers come to terms with the administration burden of running a club.
- In extreme cases where an existing team is unable cope with the administration work required it may be possible for a well-established club/team to Take on a Team and offer a more sustainable environment in which to operate. Hampshire FA is happy to facilitate this process and once again financial support can be made available through the Club Development Fund (see above).
It maybe that the support made available is not enough or comes too late to save some teams. In these instances it is important that Hampshire FA and Leagues consult with clubs that have folded in order to gain a better understanding of the issues faced on a local level.
There may be issues specific to the county or areas within the county that we need to tailor our support package to suit. Hampshire FA will be working with Leagues to carry out this research and enhance our understanding.