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Poor pitches blamed for decline in grassroots football

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The poor state of grass playing pitches is having a negative effect on grassroots football in England.

A survey by Sky Sports, completed by 2,500 people regularly playing 11-a-side football, showed that 46 per cent of players rated facilities in their area as "poor" or "very poor".

Meanwhile, 65 per cent said local councils did not do enough to improve the state of pitches, with one in three (33 per cent) being put off playing 11-a-side football due to poor playing surfaces. There was also a frustration towards the lack of council funding to improve facilities.

When asked for the best solution to improve pitches, 28 per cent suggested the installation of artificial turf pitches.

According to figures from Sport England, grassroots participation levels within football have been falling over the past decade. Sport England's latest Active People Survey, published in January 2014, showed that football suffered the steepest fall (90,000) of all sports in the number of people playing the sport regularly during 2013.

Last month, a senior Football Association (FA) official called for more artificial pitches to be installed to improve grassroots facilities.

Peter Ackerley, the FA's senior national game development manager, said many pitches run by local councils were in an "abhorrent" state and that the future of the game at grassroots level was under threat unless there is a move from grass to artificial pitches.

"There has to be a stronger push for artificial pitches," Ackerley said, and added that the FA – together with Football Foundation – had already installed 600 artifical surfaces at clubs around the country.

"There has to be a stronger push for artificial pitches," Ackerley said, and added that the FA – together with Football Foundation – had already installed 600 artifical surfaces at clubs around the country.

Other findings of the Sky Sports survey saw a demand for better officials and referees at the lowest level, and cheaper fees in accordance with the standard of provisions currently available.

To read the full results of the survey, click here.

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The poor state of pitches and lack of council funding in improving them is having a negative effect on grassroots football in England.
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