‘Crippling costs’ put strain on amateur clubs

Marsh United v Highrove.'Highrove players celebrate Scott King's goal which gave Highgrove a 2-0 lead over Marsh United.
Marsh United v Highrove.'Highrove players celebrate Scott King's goal which gave Highgrove a 2-0 lead over Marsh United.

Grassroots football is facing serious difficulties due to “crippling costs”, according to a Lancaster club secretary.

Alan Bowers, secretary of Highgrove FC, who play on the Royal Albert Fields, said that a number of teams in the North Lancs Football League were struggling because of the rising costs of running an amateur side.

He also said that young people were choosing to do other things rather than sign up to play football.

Mr Bowers said: “There are a fair few teams struggling this year. We pay fees to the league of £120 per team, and we run two. Then there are pitch fees on the council pitch, which is between £600-800 per year.

“There’s the referee payments and we’ve got to be insured, which can cost £260 per year.

“Then in winter you’ve got to pay for an artificial pitch to train on, and for players there’s the £20 signing up fee, plus weekly subs, which put a lot of youngsters off.”

There are 64 teams in the league, with 35 clubs, covering an area from Galgate to Ingleton and Bentham, and also around the bay to Barrow.

Mr Bowers said a team would need £1,500 per year to keep its head above the water.

“It’s getting more and more difficult to raise the funds,” he added.

“Some weeks we might be making £10 to £20 if we’re lucky.

“Costs go up, but how do we hand that cost down to the players without putting them off completely?

“If we lose the grassroots football, where will we be then? The costs are crippling the clubs.”

Lawrie Postlethwaite, secretary of the North Lancs Football League said: “I know a lot of clubs that have struggled over the years, and will continue to do so, but our subs haven’t changed for six years.

“It’s harder to get sponsors as well these days because businesses are struggling.

“A lot of teams used to go into a pub for a pint at the end of a game, and then the pub would present a new kit every year, but that’s all changed now. Costs keep rising and rising.”