The Grassroots Sport Champion programme is open to any pub involved in local sport, whether they host a pool or darts side, sponsor a football team or put on a post-match spread for the cricket side.
Pubs can join at no cost, and, once enrolled, will receive a free marketing pack of staff T-shirts and window stickers to help them shout about their support for the sports they support.
For PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan, the extent of pubs involvement in grassroots sport was “impressive” and an indicator of their support for the communities in which they trade.
Pubs contribute £40m every year to grassroots sport, either through direct sponsorship or donations, or in-kind support, according to a survey by PubAid which included 1,400 pubs.
Providing a lifeline
With a lack of funding the biggest challenge for many local teams, pubs are providing a lifeline that helps clubs to stay afloat and enables thousands of people to play the sport they love.
O’Flanagan said: "We have long championed pubs' charity fundraising, estimated at £100m plus a year, and their incredible work, highlighted during lockdown, to help those in need locally.
“Now, we are turning a spotlight on another aspect of their community support and looking forward to welcoming pubs across the country as Grassroots Sports Champions."
According to PubAid's research, football is the sport with the most support from pubs (40%) followed by darts and pool (30%), cricket (16%), rugby union (10%) and rugby league (4%). However, the range of sports supported by pubs is far broader, from skittles, netball, bowls and kickboxing to the little-known Bat & Trap (a distant cousin of cricket).
Heart of communities
Damian Saunders, Sky Business TV managing director, said the company was “delighted” to be supporting Grassroots Sports Champions. “Sports clubs are, like pubs, at the heart of their communities and contribute to social cohesion in their locality,” he believed.
He continued: "We are keen for as many pubs as possible to become Grassroots Sports Champions. It doesn't matter whether your pub sponsors half a dozen local teams or provides free refreshments for one darts side, the support provided by pubs for all grassroots sports deserves recognition in this programme."
Grassroots Sports Champions comes at a time when Sky is highlighting the vital role that pubs play in their community through their Everyone Loves a Local campaign. Running throughout 2022, the campaign puts local pubs in the spotlight with sports fans.
To become a Grassroots Sports Champion, you can apply through completing a form about your pub and support for grassroots sport here: pubaid.co.uk/grassroots