I must admit I get endless requests from people eager to use my Twitter reach to propel their own message. Whilst I often politely decline such queries, you’ve probably seen me tweet one particular link a few times over the past week or so. The link directs to an e-petition, calling for the Premier League to contribute 7.5% of it TV revenue towards grassroots football.
Initially, it may seem like a cheeky query from a group of individuals keen to tap up Europe’s richest league for new kit or training balls. But delve a little deeper and issues surrounding the demise of grassroots football becomes clear, and the need for funding is glaringly apparent.
A game for all
Grassroots football remains the cornerstone of English football; regardless of wealth and ability, the game played on a Sunday morning at your local playing field, is the exact same game you tune into later that afternoon. It’s 11 v’s 11, with one ball and that’s what makes England’s number one sport – it can be enjoyed by everyone. At least this was my understanding.
Cuts in funding at a grassroots level is limiting even the most basic facilities such as adequate playing fields, changing rooms and toilets. Not only that, it’s believed the annual cost of running a Saturday/Sunday league is around £4k, not extortionate by any stretch.
Trouble at home
Having spoken with friends from my hometown of Huyton recently, it seems the required £4k is the main factor why there are currently no teams in the area. This issue alone highlights my strong views, particularly as Huyton was once a breeding ground for rich talent such as Steven Gerrard, Peter Reid, Tony Hibbert, and David Nugent.
Huyton had a strong footballing network throughout my childhood, although the facilities were fairly basic, it was much simpler to organise a team as FA regulations and fees were pretty much non-existent then. So if Huyton, a town once engulfed in footballing ecstasy is struggling to even form a local team, then I can only imagine how the rest of the country must be affected.
So what’s the petition actually proposing? Well, Kenny Saunders – who coached me during my youth – has become so infuriated with decrepit and run-down facilities that he’s pleading with the Premier League to back grassroots football through funding. He has good reason for these concerns too.
Amazingly, a year after the Premier League secured a £3.01bn TV deal – a £1.25bn increase on the previous deal – funding’s been cuts from £20m to just £12m. And it gets even worse, because both the FA and Government in previous years has matched that sum, meaning their funding has also dropped – from £60m to £34m in total.
- The FA donates – £12m
- The Government – £10m
- The Premier League – £12m
It could be argued the Premier League already contributes a sizeable £1.2bn in taxes each year and it’s therefore the responsibility of the Government to distribute this accordingly. It’s also worth noting the Premier League gives away about 15% of its overall revenue, most of it in the form of solidarity payments to the Football League and Conference leagues. But despite their obvious support for the lower leagues, redirecting funding is fundamental not only to the nurturing of young talent, but helping to keep our country healthy and I believe this responsibility lies within the hands of the Premier League.
At the minute, it seems those involved with football at an elite level, has the funds and knowledge to support those at the bottom. However, the funding cuts highlighted, indicates the Premier League’s non-apparent interest in grassroots football and it’s my intention – with your help – to drive signatures to the e-petition.
The petition currently has approx. 11,000 signatures, we need 100,000 and the debate may be heard in the House of Commons.
Please share the link and let us all, help build England’s grassroots football for a better future. Here it is again http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46134