THE impact of grassroots football on the Welsh economy has been estimated at £553million a year.

A new study from the Football Association of Wales titled the Value of Welsh Football Study has found grassroots football makes a direct contribution of £263m to the Welsh economy, more than £206m in health care savings and almost £84m in the economic impact of social benefits.

Based on the UEFA Social Return on Investment (SROI) model, the survey breaks down the game’s contribution in areas including volunteering (£56.81m), player spending (£47.11m), and subjective wellbeing (£176.97m).

While 100s of thousands of adults and children take part in football across Wales, the detailed research is only based on the 90,000 players and 18,000 volunteers registered with the FAW.

Demand to play the game has grown as Wales moves out of COVID-19 lockdowns, with over 700 players on club waiting lists in Cardiff alone.

Noel Mooney, FAW CEO, said: “The FAW has been around since 1876 but this is the first time we’ve been able to put a figure on the true economic and social value of participation in football. If you’re one of the thousands of us across Wales who’s played the game, you’ve long known that football’s much more than a game, much more than kicking a ball around.

"The impact on your head, on your heart and in bringing communities together is something that lasts long after the whistle’s blown.

“The UEFA Grow SROI findings have been key to us determining the real value of football to Wales, both in monetary and social terms. The insight from this evaluation reaffirms football’s contribution to Welsh society and it comes at a crucial time for the Association as we look to grow the game through the delivery of our new strategy."