“There’s not any 3g pitches in Manchester that an individual (or a couple of mates who can’t afford to book a pitch) can legally just rock up and train on by themselves.”
These were the words on social media from a Manchester citizen who was disappointed in the options available for astroturf pitches in Manchester.
An investigation then took place by Mancunian Matters to find out what the standard and amount of these pitches were publically available.
Based on data from Sport England, the investigation found out the number of pitches available in Manchester, compared to other major cities in England.
Manchester ranked fourth out of the eight cities, falling behind Leeds District, Birmingham District and Sheffield District.
Manchester totalled 736 pitches, with Leeds District topping with 1693 pitches and Newcastle Upon Tyne bottoming the list with 550.
The disparity in the number of pitches may be due to the high countryside density in the bottom three cities compared to the top five.
The bottom three cities on the list are made up of more grassland and therefore a higher number of grass pitches could be in place compared to the top five which have a high density of urban areas which could mean there are more artificially built pitches.
The study then scoped into the Greater Manchester region to find out which areas were the best and worst for the number of pitches available to its residents.
Cheadle (243), Heywood and Middleton (234) and Altrincham and Sale West (228) were the top three boroughs in terms of number of astroturf pitches.
Stalybridge and Hyde (131), Bury South (148) and Withington (149) were the three boroughs with the lowest amount of astroturf pitches.
This Map of the parliamentary constituencies in Manchester analyses the amount of astroturf pitches in each constituency.
Interestingly, Bury North has a population of 10624 lower than Bury South but has 76 more pitches than its neighbours.
Professional footballers Marcus Rashford (Withington), Phil Foden (Stockport) and ex-players Gary and Phil Neville (Bury South) were all born and raised in constituencies that rank in the bottom six for the number of astroturf pitches.
This is unexpected as you would expect professional players have been brought up in areas with a high number of available pitches to them.
Overall, Manchester is not low for the number of available pitches, but there is still potential for the council and government to improve on available facilities to its citizens.
This would help people exercise, socialise and help improve their overall footballing ability.
Featured image by Rossett Sports Centre