SOUTHAMPTON’S council leader has spoken of his disappointment after the city missed out on the chance to invest more than £1million in grassroots football.
Football chiefs have decided Southampton does not have the credentials to become England’s first City of Football and have left it off the final shortlist.
Meanwhile south coast rivals Portsmouth, whose football team is currently in the fourth tier of English football, is on the list along with Manchester and Nottingham.
As reported by the Daily Echo, a consortium consisting of Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, Southampton FC, and amateur football clubs, were hoping to harness the football buzz around the city by bidding for the City of Football accolade.
Credentials including a successful Premier League team producing some of the best English talent and three players being called up for the national squad at the World Cup, FA Vase winning Sholing, and promotion winning Eastleigh, were not enough to impress the judges.
If successful, Southampton would have been in line for up to £1.6million of Sport England funding that would be used to encourage more people playing all forms of the grassroots game.
Sport England assessed the bids and previously said cities with significant strength in the 14-25 age group and with populations of more than 200,000 will be preferred.
But all hopes were dashed after Sport England revealed the final shortlist yesterday. Southampton City Council leader Cllr Simon Letts said he was disappointed but has yet to receive the letter detailing why the consortium’s bid had failed.
He said: “I am disappointed that we haven’t been shortlisted.
“I thought we had a good case with Southampton’s record of bringing in young players, and the success of Sholing this year.
“We congratulate Portsmouth. This might be the case that with Portsmouth, languishing in the fourth tier of English football, they may need more help with football development.”