Amateur football: nine out of ten clubs confirm the impact of Covid on their finances

For more than three quarters of amateur football clubs, the bar is the first source of income. As it has often remained closed over the past two years due to the health crisis, nine out of ten clubs say that the Covid has weighed on their finances, according to a study by ULB and VUB, carried out for ING.

Almost two-thirds of the 243 clubs that responded to the survey even speak of an impact »Very important« . »This negative effect on club finances could ultimately threaten their ability to sustain their activities and their social role.“, underline the researchers.

Member affiliations and sponsorship are other sources of income. « While the Flemish clubs rely more on sponsorship, it is affiliations that feed the funds the most in Wallonia and Brussels. Brussels clubs turn more often than others to public subsidies. When asked about their financial health, 45% of amateur clubs say they are in balance, 30% say they have a positive result while 25% say they are in the red. »

Another concern for amateur clubs: manpower. Seven out of ten clubs have difficulty recruiting volunteers. In addition, more than a third of the clubs struggle to encourage vocations and to hire referees in their affiliated workforce.

Belgium has nearly 1,800 amateur football clubs (outdoors, on grass) members of the Belgian Football Union and which play from National 1 to Provincial 4 (D1A and D1B being the only two divisions « professional« ). This amounts to an average of three clubs per municipality, but this average hides large regional disparities, warn the researchers.

Overall, 4.3% of the Belgian population – nearly one in 20 Belgians – is affiliated with a football club (for information, this proportion is 3% in France). With nearly half (48%) of the country’s affiliates, Flanders tops the ranking, ahead of Wallonia (33%) and Brussels (19%). Discipline remains essentially a male affair. The study reveals that less than 7 out of 1,000 women are affiliated with a football club, while nearly 8 out of 10 clubs do not field a women’s team.

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