SOUTHAMPTON has missed out on a chance to become England's first City of Football.

The city failed to reach the shortlist - missing out to south coast rivals Portsmouth.

As reported, Southampton put itself forward to be in with a chance of £1.6m funding to encourage more people playing all forms of the grassroots game.

A consortium consisting of Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton and Southampton Solent University, Southampton FC, and amateur football clubs submitted an expression of interest for the bid.

But it was announced today by Sport England that the city has missed out with Manchester, Nottingham and Portsmouth reaching the shortlist.

Phil Smith, Sport England's director of sport said: “Football is our national game and we want everyone who wants to play to be able to.

“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.”

Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of national game and women's football, said: “World Cup fever is about to sweep the nation, and we want to ensure that it will inspire players of all ages and abilities to get out and play football regularly in a way that suits them.

“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. 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.”