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- 06 June 2014 00:00
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Sport England have revealed that Manchester, Nottingham and Portsmouth have been shortlisted to become England’s first ever ‘City of Football’.
The three shortlisted candidates fought off competition from 22 cities bidding for the title.
The objective of the City of Football is 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 while Sport England will visit each city and work with the consortium to develop these plans.
In the autumn the title of City of Football will be awarded to one of the three cities along with up to £1.6 million of funding to run a two-year pilot programme.
The City of Football will share the insight it gains widely to help get more people playing football regularly across the country.
"Football is our national game and we want everyone who wants to play to be able to,” said Sport England’s Director of Sport Phil Smith.
"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.”
In addition to working with the three shortlisted candidates, Sport England will meet with each of the 19 bidding cities that didn’t make the shortlist to identify ways in which their commitment to increasing football participation can be maintained and built upon.
"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,” said the FA's Director of National Game and Women's Football Kelly Simmons.
"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."
The funding for the City of Football programme comes from the £1.6 million that Sport England cut in their funding for the FA.
Sport England cut £1.6 million in their funding for the FA earlier this year after the National Governing Body (NGB) failed to stop the decline in people, particularly young people, taking part in football
The number of over 16s playing football regularly fell from 2.2 million in June 2012 to 1.8 million in December 2013.
Sport England hope that the City of Football pilot scheme will help to find new ways to get more people playing football regularly.
The £1.6 million project will run alongside over £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.