With the severe weather conditions over the past month, Liverpool’s amateur teams have taken a hit.
In the Northwest Counties Football League only four of 26 scheduled games went ahead on one weekend in November.
This has led to a gloomy forecast from Litherland REMYCA chairman Don Rimmer who said: “The reality is for most clubs this is going to be a brutal season.”
Tonight’s game is OFF due to a frozen pitch…🥶
— LOWER BRECK FC (@lowerbreck) November 29, 2023
In the heart of Liverpool, the backbone of grassroots football, amateur clubs are grappling with a funding drought that is sending shockwaves through the local football community.
The lack of financial support is becoming increasingly evident as numerous games are being called off, leaving players and supporters frustrated and raising concerns about the long-term impact on the sport.
Amateur football clubs in Liverpool are the lifeblood of the football scene, nurturing talent and providing communities with a platform for recreation and social engagement.
The financial shortfall has been exacerbated by the adverse weather conditions experienced in recent months. A particularly wet November, followed by freezing temperatures, has created a perfect storm for amateur football pitches, many of which lack the resources needed to withstand such challenges.
Games Called Off Amidst Weather Woes
The unforgiving weather has led to a surge in the number of games being called off, dealing a blow to players, coaches, and spectators alike. Pitches rendered unplayable due to waterlogging and frozen surfaces have become a common sight, forcing clubs to cancel fixtures and leaving football enthusiasts yearning for the thrill of matchday.
In the Northwest Counties League, which spans various regions including Merseyside, the impact of the weather on fixture schedules has been notable. The number of games called off due to bad weather is a statistic that reflects the severity of the issue.
In the NWCFL Premier Division only four matches went ahead from a scheduled 26 that were meant to take place on the penultimate Saturday in November.
The NWCFL then had similar luck the following midweek with only one match from a scheduled 12 going ahead – New Mills VS Abbey Hey in the First Division South.
Late call off by the match referee.
Frozen Pitch with temperature dropping. Touch and go decision but must abide by officals decision
— Litherland REMYCA FC (@RemycaUtd) November 29, 2023
On the Wednesday Litherland REMYCA FC were due to face off against Lower Breck at home on Litherland Sports Park but the match was called off late due to the pitch being frosted over. Both clubs have large followings for amateur sides, with the game being called off Litherland especially lost out on a significant proportion of revenue.
Litherland REMYCA chairman Don Rimmer told Mersey Sport Live: “Weather is just one part of it. There are additional logistical issues, postponements and a lack of funding and a lack of facilities.”
An issue for REMYCA is that they don’t own their home ground at Litherland Sports Park. Rimmer said: “We’ve been pushing long and hard to try and get a new facility and get control of a ground.
“The FA and Premier League fund that provides some of the funding have acknowledged that Sefton is an area that’s short of facilities.
“But we can’t get land and we can’t identify a site.”
Potential Long-Term Consequences
The ramifications of the funding drought and the weather-related disruptions extend beyond the immediate inconvenience of cancelled games. Amateur clubs in Liverpool are already operating on tight budgets and face the risk of long-term damage to their facilities.
Rimmer said: “Ironically, we’ve got the richest league in the world, the Premier League, that generates all this money. But grassroots clubs aren’t reeking the benefits of this.
“We’ve got a league which is the richest in the world, but the money doesn’t percolate down.”
Some fixture changes due to recent call offs.
LSP not available 27/12 so game moved on a week
Litherland REMYCA FC v AFC Liverpool 3/01——7-45 ko
Litherland REMYCA FC v Lower Breck FC 17/01
Both Wednesday night games
— Litherland REMYCA FC (@RemycaUtd) December 6, 2023
Moreover, the interrupted schedules and the subsequent challenges in rescheduling fixtures may contribute to a decline in player morale and community engagement. The loss of playing time for aspiring footballers, coupled with the frustration of fans, could have a lasting impact on the vibrancy and sustainability of amateur football in Liverpool.
“One of the answers is all weather 3G pitches like the one Marine installed, yet these are extremely costly,” said Rimmer.
As amateur football clubs in Liverpool navigate this challenging period, there is a growing call for increased support from local authorities, football associations, and the wider community.
Adequate funding for facility improvements and all-weather solutions could help mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions, ensuring that the grassroots football scene in Liverpool remains resilient and continues to thrive.
Written evidence submitted by The Football Collective acknowledged that there is a need to investigate Pitch Maintenance.
A statement said: “Where playing fields have been retained there is evidence of a systematic abonnement of these facilities, which has had a cumulative effect on the quality and even viability of pitches for playing competitive football. As a result, there have been increased reports of cancelled matches on natural grass pitches.”
Of REMYCA’s situation, Rimmer added: “We can’t see many fixtures being played and we’re in a competitive division with 46 league games plus cup fixtures. That means a huge fixture backlog and pile up and that has impacts in terms of results, planning, resources and finances.”
Future aspirations and the reality
Without financial backing many clubs like REMYCA will struggle this season, especially if the backlog of fixtures continues to build up.
“The reality is for most clubs this is going to be a brutal season,” said Rimmer.
“Moving forward, I would like to actually get our own ground and to be able to develop it so that we’ve got people utilising the facilities, not only on matchdays but other days as well.”