February 5th 2021

In view of the significant discussions within the futsal community following the joint statement which was put out by ourselves and our potential futsal partners, the National Futsal League, last week, we wish to clarify the exact position, as it currently stands.

Most importantly, Leisure Leagues have no interest, have never suggested, and absolutely do not want to be a new governing body, or a replacement governing body, for the FA – nor would we wish to replicate almost anything that the FA does.

Our position remains, and has always been, that the futsal community themselves have the wherewithal, the skills, the drive, the experience and the ability to create their own governance, and their own successful business model. This would be done without having to answer to any third party, or be told what to do within their own business model by others. As Peter Sharples, secretary of the National Futsal League says: “It’s time for English futsal clubs to take responsibility for their own sport, away from the suffocating influence and inconsistency of the FA.”

We believe that futsal can operate as a successful self-sufficient business model, creating and generating its own income, either through innovative business solutions, sponsorships or sales and should function as an independent body that can call on services and suppliers, and negotiate accordingly, in the best interests of the futsal business model. Leisure Leagues have simply offered their support, services and advice in establishing a successful business model for small sided football over 30 years, which has resulted in worldwide exposure, building stadiums in Lisbon and Greece, and attracting millions of players, as well as multiple international businesses to its model.

Leisure Leagues is essentially a licence holder offering services, support and guidance, allowing multiple UK and international businesses to be successful and be, at the minimum, self-sufficient.

Those businesses can make their own decisions, as futsal should be able to, as to whether or not they believe the services offered by Leisure Leagues are valuable enough to assist their own businesses to grow.

Leisure Leagues has offered the futsal community access to its own referees’ training programs and database, venue introductions through its long-term partnerships with hundreds of venues across the UK, and international contacts, as well as other business support options.

In 2019, for example, we gave the England walking football teams (over 50s and over 60s) the opportunity to play international matches in our stadium in Crete, in front of 5000 people and an international TV audience. It is not difficult for us to incorporate other services in stadiums that we erect, that can house both six aside and futsal international teams.
Futsal has the ability to create its own international tournaments, its own international teams, and play in its own stadiums.

Four years ago Leisure leagues wished to organise the first genuine six aside football World Cup. We contacted similar organisations to Leisure Leagues in countries around the world, all of them, like Leisure Leagues, the largest operators of small sided football in their own country.

We organised a multi-million pound event in the heart of Lisbon’s main square, the most popular tourist destination, and staged the inaugural six aside World Cup in September 2018 (image above). 40 countries from around the world competed, including our own England, Scotland and Wales six aside national teams, all being paid for by sponsors who wanted the exposure that this worldwide event would bring them. It was professionally broadcast live to multiple countries, and TV stations around the world paid a fee to us for the rights. At least 380 million people around the world saw the event. This marked the first time that small sided football of this type had had a genuine international tournament on the world stage.

We believe there is absolutely no reason why futsal cannot do exactly the same thing, especially as we are offering the opportunity for futsal, as we did with walking football, to have an integral presence in these events. All futsal clubs need is the confidence to believe in themselves, and the understanding that they can do it.

As with our own training programmes we are running this year with Mark Clattenburg, it is not difficult for us to  provide the facilities and infrastructure we use to the futsal community so that futsal can have its own training programmes, developed by the futsal community, suited to futsal, and controlled by the sport directly.

In essence, we have simply offered a piggybacking opportunity so that futsal can use the stadiums, conference centres, and venues that we may already be paying for, to host their events, as well as investing in a new website platform and commercial structure which is designed to meet the needs of futsal as it grows.

It seems to us that the futsal community are not children who need to be continually told what to do by their parent, never being able to grow up, and subject to a form of Stockholm syndrome in which they remain spellbound by an organization that has taken them hostage. The futsal community should be able to be in control of its own destiny, make its own decisions, look for its own sponsorship opportunities (and retain all the income from that), developed its own successful business model, and decide on which partners or services it wishes to work with.

Many people in the futsal community will probably be running their own businesses. Whether or not they would accept a situation whereby a third-party is effectively controlling their business, and telling them how to conduct that business, is a matter for them to consider.

Leisure Leagues stands ready to support the futsal community in whatever way it can. What we will not do is act like a governing body.

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