Contemporary issues in the management of grassroots football
Grassroots football is a ubiquitous activity, participated in by millions globally. Hugely under-researched, grassroots football is increasingly becoming an area of concern for governing bodies of football who view its provision as a key component in sustaining the whole game, and nation state governments who seek to utilise the game as a tool for social development. In recent times, therefore, these organisations have sought to increasingly use grassroots football as an instrumental tool, and have devised ways to manage, professionalise, and sustain the grassroots game. However, grassroots football remains on the margins of decision-making in governing bodies such as FIFA, UEFA, and the Football Association, and on the periphery of policy decisions in other policy areas and government departments in many European states. In this chapter, we seek to scope out some of the emerging issues in the management of grassroots football by primarily drawing on examples from England. We contextualise the attempts to adopt more professional and business-like approaches in grassroots football clubs in Europe, by problematising the implementation of managerialism and New Public Management approaches to organising and managing the game, in a period of sustained austerity. Our intention in this chapter is to raise more questions and probe further inquiry into the management of grassroots football, particularly at a time when the grassroots and elite games appear to be increasingly polarised.