The FA have confirmed that new guidance issued by the Football Foundation concerning the use of facilities by small sided league operators should be followed by all venues in the UK.
In July 2019 the Football Foundation issued new guidance to all facilities and the FA, making it clear that “having a small sided league operator ensures that a facility provides the maximum opportunity to get as many people physically active in local communities in a safe and enjoyable environment, as well as being able to demonstrate best value to that facilities stakeholders”.
The guidance also made it clear that facilities should no longer prioritise FA approved bookings and should give equal status to hirers who are not affiliated to the FA.
MP Jeremy Wright, who oversaw the new guidance in 2019 said that the priority was serious because of the concern that this objective is not currently being met.
Mr Wright’s successor at the DCMS, Nicky Morgan emphasised this guidance saying sport should be open to all and the use of Football Foundation funded facilities should not be restricted to individuals and leisure providers solely affiliated to the FA.
The Football Association confirmed to Mrs Morgan that these rules should be followed.
Leisure Leagues Executive Director Stephanie Bullock said: “This is groundbreaking stuff. We have known for a long time that small sided leagues attract previously inactive people more than FA affiliated 11 aside football, and this new guidance, confirmed by the Government and the FA, now means that facilities up and down the country should be prioritising small sided leagues as a way of getting their community fit again and into regular exercise”.
“We have been talking to successive Secretaries of State at the DCMS for over 20 years about this issue, and tribute should be paid to Jeremy Wright, who was the first Minister to understand the problem, and have the clarity and determination to drive through change, which will benefit literally thousands of people across the UK”, said Ms Bullock.
“After Jeremy’s departure from the DCMS, we were worried, but in Nicky Morgan we found a supremely tenacious Minister who immediately saw the injustice, and carried through Jeremy’s far-reaching reforms to a conclusion. Hundreds of thousands of people will owe those two ministers a huge debt of gratitude”.
St George’s Park – the astro at FA Headquarters, in Burton, (above) should now be open to all.
“There are still one or two facilities that we have come across who are prioritising FA affiliated teams and clubs over our leagues, and we have been asked to report those facilities to the Government, as we find them, which could seriously impact their ability to get funding in the future, or might even result in funding they have received being clawed back”.
“The message is clear. Whether FA affiliated or not. Whether commercial or not. The overriding objective is simply to get more people active and our nation fitter. And we intend to go on doing just that”.
Leisure Leagues Senior League Manager Greg Allen echoed these thoughts ahead of Leisure Leagues impending return on 25th July when Leisure Centres and community sports facilities open again. “All we ever asked for was fairness and the end to this discrimination – and the fact it has been made official – can only be good news, not just for us, but for the football players of the UK.”Back to Blog