Increasingly wetter winters fuelled by climate change have severely impacted the grassroots game in Wales, with the disruption prompting the Welsh FA to consider switching to a summer season. 

The head of the Football Association of Wales Noel Mooney would welcome grassroots leagues wanting to trial playing games in the summer.

His comments come after a wet winter in which the FAW said 6,000 games had been called off because of the weather and inadequate facilities.

The proposed switch could prove popular with grassroots clubs according to data from Wrexham-based football equipment retailer FORZA.

A recent survey cited match cancellations due to adverse weather as one of the biggest challenges faced by grassroots clubs across Wales and England.

Key Findings: 

  • 92% of clubs experienced at least one match cancellation due to adverse weather over the past year.
  • 37% of clubs only had access to one pitch throughout the season, while 62% of clubs surveyed lacked access to purpose-built training facilities.
  • Seven out of ten clubs feel that they receive insufficient funding to support their activities.
  • Eight in ten clubs renting their pitches have seen prices climb by at least 5%, with 29% citing a cost increase of at least 15%.

In addition to the report, Prof Rob Wilson, Professor of Applied Sport Finance & Director of Executive Education at VSI, reviewed the data and provided comments on grassroots costs, facilities, and the importance of growth at the base of the football pyramid.

Adverse weather conditions contributing to cost-of-living crisis

Over half of respondents said that they rented their pitches, with 29% of those clubs reporting an alarming cost increase of 15% or more.

With facility costs rising, it's concerning to hear that clubs are finding it harder to finance their activities than ever before. Seven in ten respondents felt that they did not have sufficient funding to support their operations.

Prof Wilson said: “Running grassroots sport is a costly enterprise, often underpinned by volunteers. Challenges come from every angle and clubs need access to cost effective solutions to support their training, and in match efforts.

“The Premier League distributes millions of pounds via its broadcast income and organisations such as the Football Foundation continue to provide record breaking grants. Clubs need robust subscription models, coupled with applications for central funding to thrive.”

Inconsistent facilities & limited access to equipment

42% of respondents considered their facilities from average, while 12% of respondents deemed their facilities as poor or below average.

In terms of pitch quality, half of the survey’s respondents believe they play on an average or worse pitch with just 13% of teams citing a very good playing surface. Interestingly, over a third (37%) of clubs have access to just one pitch.

Unfortunately, clubs using equipment beyond its lifespan is commonplace, with 28% of clubs using sports equipment beyond normal wear and tear, whilst almost three out of ten clubs (29%) felt they didn’t have enough equipment to operate with. This wear –and tear is exacerbated by the fact that most clubs (71%) share equipment across multiple age groups and teams.

According to Prof Wilson: “And of course, nothing is getting any cheaper. With match cancellations from inclement weather, and an undersupply of 3G facilities, it makes balancing the books even more difficult.”

To check out a full breakdown of the 2024 Grassroots Report, you can view the study via the following link: