English grassroots football adds billions in social and economic value

09 September 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Amateur football in England creates more than £10 billion in social and economic value every year, according to a new report by the nation’s football governing body. The South-East, London and the North-West are the biggest regional beneficiaries from the impacts of the sport, the Football Associate found.

After a long, hard wait for the return of the beautiful game, football pitches have once again played host to football across England. While much was written about the impact of lockdown on the professional game however, due largely to its monetary clout, little was made of the lengthy absence of amateur football during the pandemic.

Now, a new report from the English Football Association (FA) has unveiled the huge social and economic benefits which amateur football contributes across England. The report was  Based on its findings, as the country looks to recover from the lockdown, the national game will play a pivotal role in that process.


According to the study, more than 13.5 million people play football regularly across England. This contributes £10.16 billion to society and the economy, when factoring in the direct impact, healthcare benefits, and social value the sport generates.

In terms of direct economic value, grassroots football generates £7.74 billion in funds. This includes £2.7 billion of workforce contribution and £1.72 billion in volunteering, when factoring in staff such as referees, coaches, and administrators; and £3.32 billion in participant consumption, with players paying match fees, or for kits and so on. Meanwhile, £670 million of the overall direct economic value goes to the Exchequer via tax.

The health benefits of the sport were also found to have major impacts on NHS spending. The FA estimates that regularly playing football has resulted in 141,300 fewer adults suffering chronic health disorders than would have without it. This enables healthcare savings of £372 million directly, and £772 million indirectly. At the same time, with mental health now a key talking point after the isolation of lockdown, the team sport is also thought to have helped there be 62,200 fewer cases of mental health disorders – adding a further £418 million in direct and indirect healthcare savings.


Overall, factoring all ages and demographics, healthcare savings top £1.62 billion for England alone, of which £525 million is direct savings for the NHS. Further, the social value of the game totals more than £780 million, with grassroots football being used to facilitate educational improvement and youth crime reduction.

While most industries mean that economic impacts they might have are centralised in London, meanwhile, the universality of football means these benefits are relatively well distributed. According to the FA, most of the UK’s regions see value realised of around £1 billion. While this is lower in the North-East at £482 million, the nation’s capital is not even the largest beneficiary of grassroots football’s impacts. The FA found that South-East England received benefits of £1.66 billion – ahead of London’s £1.62 billion. Meanwhile, the footballing powerhouse that is the North-West saw the next highest figure, at £1.32 billion.

The report was supported by a number of external consultants, including consultants from Portas Consulting. Founded in 2006, the boutique sports advisory has offices in London, Dubai, Riyadh and Singapore, the firm supports governments, sports bodies and corporates around the world. Recently the firm helped the Scottish FA develop its new strategy, The Power of Football.