BUSINESSES are being encouraged to get behind a bid to make Portsmouth the City of Football.
Pompey in the Community director of community projects Clare Martin said the support of both small and large businesses was essential to a successful City of Football bid.
Ms Martin said she hoped to see companies back the bid by encouraging employees to get into football.
She said: ‘We’d like to see businesses encouraging things like football after work and lunchtime football.
‘We’d also like to see workplace teams and local leagues playing against each other and to promote any opportunities to get involved in football.’
Portsmouth is vying to become England’s City of Football against Manchester and Nottingham, which have also been named as finalists in the Sport England promotion.
Winning the bid would mean a £1.6m National Lottery grant to the city to get more people, particularly those aged 14 to 25, engaged in the beautiful game.
Ms Martin said business would benefit from a successful bid both directly and indirectly.
She said: ‘Football businesses such as Play Football, Goals and Parkwood Leisure would benefit directly.
‘If the aim is to get more people playing then that would seep through to their businesses.
‘Then there’s also the benefits to the whole community because if we’ve got more people playing football, we’ve got a healthier workforce.
‘And that will mean we’ll also have a happier workforce.’
The three finalists were picked from 22 cities because of their commitment to get more people playing the sport at grassroots level.
Hampshire FA women, girls and disability football development officer Martina Heath said she believed the legacy of the bid, which has been put together by different groups, would live forever.
Football Association director of national game and women’s football, Kelly Simmons, said: ‘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.’
Portsmouth’s final bid has to be submitted by August 15.
The winning bid is due to be announced in mid-September.