Skip to main content

Extreme weather driven by climate change is increasingly affecting grassroots sports in the UK, a report by the British Association of Sustainable Sport (BASS) has found.

Almost two-thirds of spectators and players said storms, intense rain and extreme heat were making supporting and participating in grassroots sports harder, often due to cancelled or postponed events.

Forty percent of football fans, 60% of cricket fans and 64% of golf fans said they had been affected by extreme weather in the last 12 months, according to polling by YouGov included in the report.

“All of the signs are that grassroots participation sport in the UK is being increasingly hit by extreme weather”, said Dr Russell Seymour from BASS.

“The future of clubs and all of the social and economic benefits they provide is on the line.” 

Cancelled matches

On average more than 13,000 overs of cricket have been lost each year over the last 10 years, the report found.

The report follows research conducted by the Football Association (FA) showing that around 120,000 games are lost every year due to flooding. Meanwhile the Sport and Recreation Alliance has found that a third of football pitches lose between six weeks and two months of play every year due to severe weather.

The 2023-4 winter season has already been hit by five major storms – Agnes, Babet, Ciaran, Debi and Elin – and forecasters warn that weather extremes will become more severe and frequent as temperatures continue to rise.

Almost two-thirds of the British public now believe a new independent football regulator needs to be set up to look at the impacts of climate change on the sport, the report found.

It also called for a more systematic approach to collecting data on climate change’s impact on sports, while highlighting the impact on local communities, with the least well off being the most affected.

“Our sports clubs are central to many of our towns and neighbourhoods. It’s heartbreaking to see so many struggling with the weather extremes”, said Roger Harding from Round our Way, which commissioned the YouGov poll.

“Every cancelled game is a lost opportunity to bring people together, keep people fit and make some money to keep clubs afloat. Sadly this is one of the ways climate change is really starting to bite in the UK, and it often hits working class communities hardest.”