February 9th 2021
Futsal Statement: Leisure Leagues Withdraw From Discussions

It is clear over this past weekend that the futsal community is fragmented and has significant underlying issues which we believe it needs to address before it can enter into any new long term partnerships.

Since the FA announced they were cutting all funding for futsal in England, we were approached by members of the futsal community and asked for support.

We were pleased to suggest a new way forward, which centred around the main policy, as we saw it, of making sure that futsal was a credible, self-financing operation, which only required third party grants (such as from the FA) as an addition to its existing income, and not as an existential lifeline.

Like any fledgling business, but with a sustainable and potentially profitable product, we were prepared to invest significant sums into creating a new platform, and open up further opportunities within our infrastructure to futsal more widely, to help it achieve its goal of sustainability.

As a business model, futsal is dysfunctional, in part created by an over-reliance on external funding from the FA, and in part created by the FA’s authoritarian mismanagement, and lack of business acumen, which has not allowed futsal to thrive.

What we have seen over the last few weeks in our discussions with the futsal community is that there are a wealth of imaginative ideas and thinking which, if allowed to flourish, could create a profitable, self- financing and more marketable product, which it has hitherto been unable to achieve within the strict straitjacket of the FA.

As we have said before, futsal, like thousands of other businesses in the UK, does not need a strict governing body telling them what they can and cannot do. Light regulation, guided by the law, to allow futsal as a business to flourish is what is needed, with futsal people themselves making their own decisions about the future for futsal and in what direction it should be travelling.

We see the most serious problem for futsal  is that it has a very underdeveloped grassroots underbelly. The only way futsal is going to be economically successful is if it develops a coordinated, nationwide grassroots underbelly, which it is more than capable of doing, and that was the principal support that we were prepared to offer, bringing our 30 years of experience, as well as our investment, to help futsal govern itself, and make money, so that future grant funding would be a bonus, rather than a lifeline.

Futsal has enormous potential. But the people within it need to come together in a unified way, under a serious and structured leadership team, to present their business model to the outside world, and people like ourselves, who are prepared to invest and support.

There are some people in futsal who understand this need all too well. There are others who believe that staying tied to the FA, and doing nothing, will mean all will be well.

Futsal has to decide which route it wants to take. For now, Leisure Leagues does not see further need for continued discussions with the futsal community until the futsal community decides exactly what it wants, but we stand ready to help, support and invest in the futsal community should there be a serious and significant approach that is prepared to address the structural economic issues in order to become self- financing and to move forward.

We know that this decision will come as a significant blow to the many futsal people who have approached us and spoken to us and who feel they desperately need our support. We do not rule out a partnership in the future. But for now, we must stand back and let futsal decide for themselves, as should always be the case, what is best for futsal to move forward.

Picture is of the Leisure Leagues World Cup Stadium, in Crete 2019

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