Running a football club is costly. Equipment, pitches, kits, coaches, referees, travel, insurance and registrations all come at a price. Recent press coverage has highlighted the struggles some teams face to find and secure pitches in particular.
An article in The Guardian noted that for the women’s game, a shortage of pitches across the country, with those that are available often being in bad condition due to wear and tear, is compounded by the fact that many of the spaces available are dominated by male teams.
Montpelier Villa WFC were awarded a kit from Deliveroo through the Gift of Kit scheme: they applied on 17 September last year, and received the kit on 28 October. Find them on Twitter: @MVWFC
Since the publication of the Guardian article, noise has continued to grow about the number of women's games in the UK – from grassroots all the way up to WSL games – which are called off or postponed due to pitch quality, usually as a result of the weather. Portsmouth F.C. Ladies, members of the FA Women's National League South, have been a major casualty of such postponements.
The surge of participants in the women’s game in England following the 2019 World Cup has meant that the country’s grassroots football infrastructure, which was already under pressure, is being stretched even further.
A full team’s match day kit can cost, on average, anywhere between £250 and £400 for juniors and £300 and £500 for adults.
While playing space usually makes up the bulk of a club’s costs, kit also represents a significant outlay. A full team’s match day kit can cost, on average, anywhere between £250 and £400 for juniors and £300 and £500 for adults. Considering the fact that most teams require at least a home and an away option, kit costs are often pushing the £1000 mark.
To fund this, some teams ask players to pay for their kits individually, while others turn to sponsors. In exchange for the price of the kit, the sponsor gets their logo printed on the shirt and therefore visible to players and spectators. Sponsors are typically local businesses or organisations who want to boost their profile in the area and give back to the community, or fans keen to support the game.
Clubs approach sponsorship in different ways – some simply ask for the exact amount of money for their kit or another necessity, while others offer packages designed to suit different budgets. Individual player sponsorship and match day sponsorship are some of the most common packages – money from these sponsorships is typically combined and then split across various uses.
But as the number of participants in the women’s game grows, the requests for sponsorship grow in tandem, spreading the resources thin. Clubs are therefore increasingly looking for ways to keep their teams afloat.
Brooklands Dragons JFC Girls under 12s received new kits through a partnership with Kia Altrincham, facilitated by Gift of Kit. Find them on Twitter: @dragonsjfc
Gift of Kit are a sports marketing company, and one of a few firms looking to reshape the way businesses and sports teams interact and work together.
Founded in 2014 by Rob Clilverd and Jon Green, Gift of Kit provides clubs across the UK with free sponsored kit from well-known brands – in return, clubs are asked to respond to offers from the brand or share the brand's offers with their members.
In 2019, Gift of Kit gave out over 30,000 full strips, and across all of their schemes since 2014 they have gifted kit to over 6000 clubs, team and volunteers within grassroots sport. There are two football Gift of Kit schemes currently active.
A partnership with Kia, through which clubs can receive a full PUMA match kit (or a full set of cricket whites), launched in 2018, while a scheme with Deliveroo which provides exclusive discount and offers for club members alongside a full PUMA kit launched in 2019.
For the former, Kia dealerships choose the local clubs they want to team up with, while those applying for the latter must have an associated adult team and be located within a Deliveroo service zone, which is approximately 40 per cent of the country.
A scheme with World Rugby is also currently running, while past programmes have been with organisations including Tradepoint and Sky Sports.
Alder Ladies FC wearing their second kit, supplied by Deliveroo through the Gift of Kit scheme. Find them on Twitter: @AlderLadiesFC
When looking to link up with businesses, Gift of Kit have one main criterion: that their views on grassroots sport align. Jon Green says: 'Team sport has huge impacts on physical and mental well being for all of us, it teaches valuable lessons in teamwork, dedication, organisation and work ethic that many non-sporting activities cannot. We believe team sport at grassroots level is fundamental in shaping the next generation as people and as athletes.'
'Deliveroo are a fantastic company to work with and have made a huge commitment to grassroots football and we believe PUMA is the UK’s premium football team wear provider and shares our vision for grassroots sport.'
Of all sponsorship that goes into football in the UK, around 5 per cent goes into the female game. Jon Green, Founder, Gift of Kit
The Gift of Kit team are keen to support female football through the scheme. Green says: 'Of all sponsorship that goes into football in the UK, around 5 per cent goes into the female game. Through both our Kia and Deliveroo schemes, 30 per cent of the kits have gone to female teams. We want lots more female teams to register!' And as for the future, there are more offers from other brands due to be announced later this year. Green says: 'We are always working hard to continue current programmes while launching new and compelling offers for grassroots clubs, so watch this space!'
The Gift of Kit scheme could provide you and your club 14 full strips with a choice of style, size and colour. You can find out more about the Deliveroo scheme here, the Kia scheme here, and follow gift of kit on Twitter @Gift_of_Kit.