Nottingham has today been named as Sport England‘s City of Football, narrowly beating Manchester and Portsmouth. Nottingham will receive £1.6 million to get more people in the city playing football regularly.
Competition for the prize was fierce, and the three candidate cities put in exceptionally strong bids, each rising to the challenge of making a compelling case to show how and why they were the best placed to encourage more people to play football more often.
Nottingham clinched the title by mobilising an impressive group of private, public and voluntary sector partners from both inside and outside the traditional football family, to do whatever it takes to get more people – particularly those aged 14-25 years – playing all kinds of football regularly. This includes a very close collaboration with the city’s Creative Quarter - Nottingham's creative network where business, art and technology come together - and applying lessons learned from engaging with young people to develop its successful GameCity festival.
The strength of Nottingham’s bid is the focus on using insight to respond to the challenge of getting more people playing the national game. A key element is a digital platform - ‘Playbook’ - which will help providers planning to put on football activities in the city target the right people, in the right places, at the right time, with relevant offers.
Phil Smith, Sport England’s Director of Sport, says: “We’re delighted to name Nottingham as Sport England’s City of Football. Football is this country’s most popular team sport but there is still a real capacity to grow. Nottingham has an exciting and inventive response to the challenge of getting more people to play the game and we will look forward to working with them to make this happen.”
Nigel Cooke, Head of One Nottingham, said: “This is great news for Nottingham and its people and will transform the footballing landscape in the city. One Nottingham will continue to bring together organisations and experts from across the city to ensure we deliver an exceptional, joined-up and creative programme, resulting in a social football revolution.
“Over the next two years, we will create new football partnerships; develop new technologies; encourage more people to play, especially 14 to 25 year olds, women and girls and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds; and share our learning so that the rest of England can benefit from our insight.”
The two other candidate cities, Manchester and Portsmouth, each had elements to their proposals that demonstrated a real ability to change behaviour and work with a number of partners to increase the number of people playing football. Sport England was particularly interested in their digital proposals in their bids and will work with Manchester and Portsmouth to develop these ideas alongside Nottingham’s Playbook.
The City of Football process, with the full support of the Football Association, has created strong partnerships across the 22 cities that bid for the title back earlier in the year. Many have since indicated that the strength of their consortiums put together, has created new ideas around football development and created new partnerships between football associations, business, and the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Kelly Simmons, the FA's Director of National Game and Women's Football, says: “Football is our national game and it is vitally important that we get as many people as possible playing across the country in a way that they want at times convenient to them. Nottingham’s plans showed real strength in opening up opportunities for everyone in the city to get involved in the game, and we look forward to sharing our expertise, discovering new insights, and applying the findings of the pilot across England going forward.”
The pilot is part of a wider programme of Sport England investment into existing activity 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.