Our city one of three selected
As the nation prepares to back England’s World Cup campaign, Sport England has today announced that Portsmouth is among three cities shortlisted to become England’s first ‘City of Football’.
Clare Martin, chief executive of Pompey in the Community, which co-ordinated the successful submission said: “This is a fantastic honour and everyone connected with the bid is delighted to have this unique opportunity to show the country once again how passionate Portsmouth is about its football.
“We worked really hard to put together our expression of interest and we were overwhelmed with the backing everyone in the city gave us.
“Ours is a truly ‘community’ bid and the buy-in of so many agencies was vital in getting to this stage, I am certain.
“We have a huge amount of work ahead of us to turn our dream of becoming England’s ‘City of Football’ into a reality, but to have reached this stage is just amazing.”
Mark Catlin, chief executive of Pompey, who have backed the bid from the start, added: “We are extremely proud to have played our part in achieving this fantastic news for the city.
“As the country’s biggest community club we have worked really hard over the past year to rebuild the confidence of people in Portsmouth and that work has been recognised by the quality of the submission Clare and her team have been able to put together.
“Pompey is a football city like no other and this is a great opportunity to get even more people here playing the people’s game.”
The other cities shortlisted are Manchester and Nottingham.
The shortlisted cities fought off competition from 22 cities bidding for the title, demonstrating a commitment to uniting public, private and voluntary organisations to do whatever it takes to get more people – particularly those aged 14-25 years – playing all forms of the grassroots game regularly.
Over the summer, the shortlisted cities will develop full proposals for how they will turn this commitment into a plan to get more people in their city playing the game regularly. Sport England will visit each city and work with the consortium to develop these plans.
Phil Smith, Sport England’s director of sport, said: “Football is our national game and we want everyone who wants to play to be able to. Yet despite demand for the game, the number of over 16s playing regularly is falling.
“We want to support one of these cities to become a test-bed for developing innovative ways to get more people playing the game, so that we can share best practice across the nation and unlock the latent demand for football that is at the heart of every community. We look forward to working with each city over the coming months to develop their ideas.”
Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of national game and women's football, added: “World Cup fever is about to sweep the nation and we want to ensure that it will inspire players of all ages and abilities to get out and play football regularly in a way that suits them.
“Despite the growth in children's football we are facing challenges retaining and growing the number of adult players wanting to play on a weekly basis.
“The City of Football is an opportunity for everyone involved in football to come together to test new ways of opening up football opportunities for everyone. We look forward to sharing our expertise, as well discovering new insights, as the pilot progresses.”
In the autumn, the title will be awarded to one city along with up to £1.6 million of National Lottery funding to run a two-year pilot programme.
The results will be monitored and evaluated throughout and learnings will be shared widely to help get more people playing football regularly across the country.
The application process revealed a huge appetite among cities across England to explore new ways to open up football.
Sport England will meet with each of the 19 cities that didn’t make the shortlist to identify ways in which this commitment can be maintained and built upon.
The number of over 16s people playing football regularly fell from 2.2 million in June 2012 to 1.8 million in December 2013.
As a result, earlier this year Sport England announced that it would invest £1.6 million in a pilot ‘City of Football’ to find new ways to get more people playing football regularly.
The pilot will run alongside more than £160 million of existing activity from Sport England to develop the grassroots game, including funding new facilities, running community programmes and working with partners such as the FA, Premier League and the Football Foundation.