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"Grassroots football in England: abuse, death threats and withering numbers"

Link to The Guardian

"... Down at grassroots level, the outlook on Merseyside and throughout the country is bleak. Kenny Saunders of Woolton FC says:
"The next Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard or Gareth Bale are going to be sitting at home because their parents can't afford to send them to football. We have to change that, but it's hard and it's getting harder."
"Nationally, there has been a 9% decrease in the number of 16-year-olds and over playing football at least once a week in eight years, according to Sport England. There are myriad reasons – lifestyle changes, the recession, houses standing where pitches used to be – and many projects, plus thousands of dedicated people, attempting to combat the problem.

"One is Mick Baikie, the national clubs services manager at the Football Association, and also coach of his local junior team, Lichfield City:
"... One of the biggest challenges we face is facilities. We've got qualified coaches but we haven't got the facilities for them to coach and play. The big problem now is the public sector cuts – 80% of games are played on local authority sites that have been heavily subsidised in the past but we are starting to see an impact with the cuts.

One council recently raised their fees from £400 per pitch, per season to £1,600. That's happening all over the country, and it is a real challenge to get teams on to pitches."

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