About the campaign
Children up and down the country benefit from being able to take part in organised football. It’s not just good exercise; it teaches them important life skills like team work and helps them to build friendships. I don't want children to miss out on the chance to take part.
The cuts imposed by the Government on Local Authorities across the country mean that football is feeling the effect. I've heard so many stories about ordinary families unable to pay rising subs, poor quality pitches and an absence of decent changing facilities.
I think that it would be unreasonable to demand that councils put more money into football at a time when such difficult decisions are being made, but I still think that it is important for our country so we must look for alternative revenue.
I hope you will consider signing this petition calling for the Premier League to give more back to grassroots football – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200094
How it all started
In 2013 I helped form Save Grassroots Football. Our aim was to have the Government negotiate with the Premier League to ensure a fair funding stream from the wealthy professional game to the grassroots.
It turned out that back in the 90s the Premier League had agreed that they would give 5% of the money they receive from TV broadcasting rights to grassroots football. However, at no point did they meet this agreement, and the ambition did not include money from international broadcasting rights.
It was time to set things right.
What has happened so far?
The campaign began with an ambitious goal: 7.5% of all Premier League broadcasting rights to go to the grassroots.
More than 30,000 people signed my petition and the publicity put this issue on the public agenda. There is clear public support for this campaign and discussions over how we fund grassroots sport have become mainstream.
I took our argument into the House of Commons, debating the Sports Minister in Westminster Hall
Labour was the first party to listen and made a manifesto commitment for the 2015 General Election to tax the Premier League’s TV rights at 5% and provide additional funds through a tax on sports betting.
Eventually the Government started to listen too. By October 2015 we were hearing positive words from the new Sports Minister.
As we moved into 2016 we saw new rights deals being signed. Sky and BT Sport paid a record £5.136bn for live Premier League TV rights for three seasons from 2016-17. More than £2bn is coming from international broadcasting rights.
The campaign took a huge step forward when the Government finally announced a new funding arrangement. Over £100m per year was pledged to grassroots football, in cash terms this would be double the previous year. It was a clear win for our three years of work.
Sadly though the deal did not meet our ambitions. International broadcasting rights were still excluded from the arrangement, leaving millions of pounds in the hands of the richest clubs in the country.
That’s where we are today. Big steps taken, more work to do.
Save Grassroots Football has launched a fresh petition to pressure the Government. You can add your name here https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/200094
You can also follow @savegrassroots on twitter for updates from the campaign lead by football activist Kenny Saunders.
I will continue to hold the Government to account on this matter. The promises made in 2016 cannot be allowed to be forgotten like the old commitments were, and we must keep revisiting this issue to deliver a fair deal that gives grassroots football a secure and stable funding stream.