REFF launched by the Football Foundation
The Register of English Football Facilities, the most comprehensive record of football facilities ever produced, has been launched by the Football Foundation.
One of the largest sporting charities in the UK, the Football Foundation was established in July 2000 to target problems and issues in the provision and delivery of grassroots football, and is responsible for an annual investment of over £53 million, through funding from the FA, the FA Premier League, Sport England and the Government.
As part of a long-term strategy for facility investment, the Football Foundation began the REFF project in April 2001 to catalogue individually every football facility and pitch in England. The audit was led by a team headed by Price Waterhouse Coopers and PMP and cost around £2 million to complete.
The study involved sending questionnaires to schools, local authorities, private clubs and County FAs across England to gain a definitive assessment of facility provision. Respondents were asked to highlight areas that required work or investment. At the top of the list came both changing facilities and pitch drainage, with 41 per cent of respondents identifying that these required improvement. The provision of showers was the third main concern, being identified by 35 per cent.
PMP Chair Peter Mann explained that the project had been a demanding challenge: "When we began, all estimates pointed to us finding about 20,000 pitches across the country. We actually located nearly 45,000."
The survey identified that while certain areas, such as Norfolk, Devon, Dorset and the Channel Islands enjoy a consistently high standard of facilities, other locations such as Birmingham, East and West Riding and Manchester are less fortunate, with major causes for concern.
Geoff Webb, Director of Facility and Stadia Development for the Football Foundation said: "This is a vital step towards identifying and rectifying areas that have been neglected, but it is just the start of a major investment process. We had to make sure that we could highlight specific regions and issues that needed attention first. This comprehensive approach will enable us to be more effective in planning the sport's future."