Almost a third of Scottish parents say cost of living will impact ability to afford football for children, according to report

A new report reveals a bleak outlook for grassroots football clubs in Scotland as a result of the deepening cost of living crisis.

The Price to Play Report, commissioned by Utilita, reveals 32 per cent of Scottish parents said the cost of living crisis will impact their ability to afford football.

The report, which surveyed 1,000 parents of grassroots footballers aged five to 16 across the UK, was undertaken by OnePoll between April 22 and April 28 this year.

Other figures showed 23 per cent of parents said they have not been able to afford subs since the pandemic. One fifth of parents said they were only just able to send their child to football as they have made sacrifices elsewhere.

Hutchison Vale 2011s group on the pitch as figures reveal almost a third of Scottish parents fear sending their kids to football during the cost of living crisis (Photo: Ana-Maria Corneanu).

A total of 26 per cent of Scottish parents said they would not be able to afford football in the very near future and the same number said that the cost of boots limits which surfaces their child can play on.

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Sue McLernon, 2011s group leader (ages 10 and 11) at Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale Football Club based in Edinburgh said her club’s doors were “always open” to anyone struggling.

The group leader has said it was too early to tell if anyone had been impacted by the cost of living but said there was a real concern.

Ms McLernon said: “We haven’t lost anyone yet from the cost of living but our doors are always open if parents felt they couldn’t afford the fees we have.

"It’s all about kids playing football and lockdown has been really hard on kids with basically two years away from the norm.

"If I had all 26 of my parents saying they couldn’t afford to play football, yes it would affect us as we have commitments as well.”

Carolyn Embleton, club manager for Spartans FC Youth in Edinburgh, said for the first time in seven years the club would “most likely” have to put monthly subs up in the new season.

She said: “This is because all of our costs are going up, pitch hire, kit and equipment costs.

"We try to support our families and so we provide reduced or free subs to anyone who needs this, as we don't want money to be an obstacle to being a member of the club.

"We have seen an increase in requests for support with subs as a direct result of people losing jobs during Covid.”

Ms McLernon said she would like the Scottish Government to “give community football teams a hand”.

Sports Minister Maree Todd said: “The cost of living crisis is taking its toll and the ability to pay or access good facilities should not be a barrier to participation in sport. This is why we are doubling investment in sport and active living to £100 million a year by the end of the Parliament to ensure we address inequalities in access to physical activity and sport.

“The Scottish Government is using the powers currently available, and the finite financial resources, to make investments in the policies that will deliver on these ambitions.”

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