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Two thirds of grassroots pitches aren't adequate

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Only one in three pitches at grassroots level is of adequate quality, says the Football Association.

The figure is part of the FA's written evidence for a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) parliamentary hearing on Wednesday about the possible sale of Wembley Stadium.

The FA says it is "considering a sale because it represents a transfor­mative opportunity" to change "the poor state of community football facilities".

The DCMS hearing starts at 14:00 BST.

The FA has received an offer of £600m for the national stadium from Fulham owner Shahid Khan - the governing body would retain Club Wembley rights which it values at £250m-£300m.

Among those taking part in the DCMS hearing are Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and FA chief executive Martin Glenn.

Sport England chair Nick Bitel, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville and Katrina Law, co-chair of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, will also answer questions.

There are 21,000 grassroots clubs, 50 county FAs, 25,000 schools and 330 local authorities which are catered for by the FA and, along with the finding that only one in three grassroots pitches are of adequate quality, the FA's written evidence also highlights:

  • 150,000 matches were called off last season due to poor facilities
  • One in six matches are called off due to poor pitch quality
  • 33 of 50 county FAs are without their own 3G pitch
  • Cancelled matches account for the equivalent of 5,000,000 playing opportunities lost this year because of poor facilities
  • There are half the number of 3G pitches in England than there are in Germany

"The word for grassroots football is 'crisis,'" said Kenny Saunders, who runs pressure group Save Grassroots Football. "Government cuts to local councils are having a massive impact.

"Councils can't maintain pitches and more of them are selling them off.

"I would welcome the sale of Wembley if the money is ring-fenced for grassroots football and used wisely. We need to build from the bottom."

JC

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