The rising cost of living hits grassroots sport hard - SportsHotels - The sports accommodation experts

The rising cost of living hits grassroots sport hard

Grassroots sports clubs have been called “the lifeblood of sport and recreation” by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA) but they face growing challenges from the cost of living crisis, and many clubs face reduced activity or could even shut down altogether as costs skyrocket.

There is infinite value in the opportunities provided by grassroots sports clubs – they help millions of people to be active, boosting physical and mental health. They create positive connections and camaraderie, help youngsters to develop skills and even find their place in professional sports, and build community spirit that spreads to many other aspects of life for the players, as well as their families and friends.

Rising energy bills are a concern for everyone these days, and this is the primary issue for the majority of grassroots clubs. As of December 2022, 1 in 4 reserve-holding grassroots clubs were in a “financial red zone” and 50% of clubs had to use their reserve funds to cover their running costs, according to research by SRA. It is estimated that most clubs will soon be operating at a break-even point, with no spare funding available to cover rising costs or extra/emergency expenses.

The higher costs are passed on to club members and teams, but while some sports teams may be able to fund their own kit, travel and snacks, and contribute to the running of their club, most grassroots team members can’t help with these costs and miss out on participating as a result.

The charity Sported conducted a survey in 2023 and found that 67% of the UK grassroots sports organisations interviewed expect that the cost of living crisis “…will force children and young people out of participating in activities over the next six months – even when those activities are free.”

In addition to the increase in costs, many clubs also face a decrease in sponsorship and funding as the cost of living crisis forces supporters to cut back. As the cost of living rises, individuals are having to choose between paying bills or club membership fees, reducing those clubs’ bank accounts. .

Grassroots sport may seem to be cheap or carry no costs, but even the most basic club has some core needs such as club and pitch facilities – which will have energy bills and other expenses, including regular maintenance. If they don’t have their own facilities, they often have to hire a pitch, which is becoming more and more expensive.

Some coaches are volunteers, but when a team reaches a higher level of competition it will need to pay a coach too. Then there are local leagues which must be joined in order to compete with other teams, which carry an annual or seasonal fee; a kit for teams competing, transport to those games, and accommodation if they need to stay over somewhere are all a factor, and don’t forget basic equipment such as a ball, nets for netball, or bats and wickets for cricket… it all adds up.

There are government initiatives in place to support grassroots teams and assist with funding, but with thousands of clubs around the UK facing rising costs, those funds can’t help everyone.

Businesses can play an important role in helping grassroots teams, and that sponsorship can benefit everyone involved with the publicity and goodwill it creates. Helping in your own area of expertise can add even more value, as continues to show in helping teams find the best, most cost-effective accommodation when they need to travel for a game. We love helping these teams get where they need to be, and we encourage you to get involved and help your local grassroots team face the challenges ahead so they can keep playing, despite the rising costs we all face.

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