We mustn’t price people out of Grassroots football

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I’ve gasped twice in the last few days as two separate but very related moments happened in Grassroots football that just reminded me how easy it can be to become ‘out of touch’.

Perhaps ‘tone deaf’ is a better way to describe the England Lionesses kit release that sees replica shirts retail from an eye-watering £75 up to £115 for something that is apparently Vaporknit.

Hi cost of living crisis, the kids want to get behind the England women’s team at the Euros in the country this summer. That’ll be 75 quid. Cheers.

Even without bills, fuel and food price hikes, £75 is an astonishing (albeit I know not unusual) amount of money to buy a replica shirt. Women’s football is growing and growing, the Euros in this country this summer will only speed that up, but this is greed plain and simple.

The second gasp moment was the price of tickets to the weekend Vanarama National League playoff final at the London Stadium. A bizarre venue and situation on the face of it when you already knew all six sides who could reach the final were geographically north of Birmingham.

It’s Solihull Moors vs Grimsby Town in the final, which a Mariners supporting colleague said to me ‘if it’s not at Wembley, what’s the point in having it in London?’

Wembley Stadium home of the FA. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
“If it’s not at Wembley, what’s the point in having it in London?” Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Adult tickets for this game start at £40 plus the booking fee. I understand one of the more expensive tickets at Wembley for the Championship playoff final on Sunday was £36.

When you then take into account travel costs, maybe an overnight stay, this is a hugely expensive afternoon for Non-League football supporters and wildly off the mark for most.

I did a quick Google map of the journey between Solihull in the Midlands and Grimsby and there slap bang in the middle was Nottingham. City Ground or Meadow Lane, either if available would have been absolutely fine for this final.

Why have the National League gone and booked the London Stadium anyway? It’s not exactly a ground known for its football friendly experience, is it? I can only surmise the same conclusion as the price for the Lionesses kit.

It’s all a little reminder to us in grassroots football just to try and keep a check on costs. One of the oft used reasons for the non-league love in is simply ‘cost’ and being priced out of the professional game. Stuff is getting more expensive of course but we can’t price people out just at the point we’re seeing record crowds and participation at our clubs.

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