Powerleague leads consortium of businesses asking the Prime Minister to allow contact football to be allowed

A group of the UK’s top small-sided football providers have come together to urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision for contact football to remain constrained, despite a raft of lockdown restrictions being removed from last weekend.

A letter, penned by Powerleague CEO Christian Rose, and supported by his counterparts from Goals, Play Football, Fives Soccer Centres, Soccer Sixes and Footy Addicts, implores PM Boris Johnson to consider some of the huge benefits of 5-a-side football, and questions the wisdom in keeping contact football restricted, leading to outdoor pitches being shut, whilst higher-risk industries return to work.

In the UK, small-sided football plays a huge role in promoting positive physical and mental health, with 2.6 million schoolchildren* – those least likely to contract Covid-19** – taking part every week, while research conducted by NGTV, a French company who have worked with the likes of the French Football Federation (FFF) to provide in-depth player analysis using AI, revealed that the average time players spend in proximity of one another is extremely low, at an average of 2 minutes and 16 seconds within 1 metre of an opponent, per hour long game.***

Last week the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer also expressed his desire to return to small-sided football, telling BBC Breakfast: “The sooner I can get back to 5-a-side football, the better.” Former Premier League footballer and TV pundit Robbie Savage has also been passionately campaigning for the return of grassroots football. It is a feeling that chimes with over 1.3 million adults who play small sided football at least twice a month up and down the country, with growing questions in recent weeks surfacing on social media concerning the wisdom of re-opening certain parts of the economy, while neglecting small-sided football and other sports providers in this way.

Christian Rose, Powerleague CEO, says “Our businesses provide 5 a-side, 6-a-side and 7 a-side football, to players of all ages, including under-18s. We play a major part in local communities via coaching, training, social play, league competitions, walking football for older players, children’s camps and significant charitable work. Essentially, we provide affordable team sports for a cross section of the community. Our facilities serve some of the poorest communities, and more often than not in urban areas. These are the communities hardest hit, and those that need our services the most.

“The omission of our sector from the reopening plans has shocked our sector. The benefits to society from small sided football are extensive, from physical fitness and mental well-being to the positive aspects of social interaction and being part of a team. The message from the Secretary of State stating an aspiration to reopen indoor gyms and leisure facilities in mid-July is something we have noted, but we need clarity that outdoor small sided contact football will be included within this.

“We all passionately believe that small sided football has an important part to play in restoring health and well-being to both individuals and our communities. We are asking the Prime Minister to prioritise the re-opening of these businesses with contact football and we look forward to hearing from him.”

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