The cuts imposed by the Government on Local Authorities across the country mean that football is feeling the effect. I've heard stories from around the country 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.
When I first launched this campaign in February 2013 the Premier League had signed a three season deal for their broadcasting rights worth £5bn. Clearly there is money in football, but it is being concentrated at the top. I don't want this cash boost to be wasted on even higher wages for managers and players, it's time for the Premier League to give more back to the grassroots.
I’m calling for just 7.5% of this money. The Premier League already give 4-5% so this wouldn’t be a radical difference for them, but it would make a huge difference to children up and down the country and help to open up the sport to everyone.
Why Is This Important?
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 Premier League continues to grow in popularity around the world and inspires many children to get active and play football. It must be right for us to ask the Premier League to share its success with the families that help make that success possible.
What Has Happened So Far?
In the first year of the campaign I launched an online petition calling on the Government to take action and force the Premier League to provide more resources for grassroots football.
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.
In 2014 I launched a second petition to keep the pressure on the Government. I took our argument into the House of Commons, debating the Sports Minister in Westminster Hall.
The Conservatives continued to ignore the issue, but Labour listened and made a manifesto commitment for the General Election to tax the Premier League’s TV rights at 5% and provide additional funds through a tax on sports betting.
Where Are We Now?
Sky and BT Sport have now paid a record £5.136bn for live Premier League TV rights for three seasons from 2016-17. They will bring in as much as £2bn on top of this in international broadcasting rights.
At the same time local councils up and down the country are expecting wave after wave of further cuts, a severe threat to grassroots footballs funding. This campaign is becoming even more relevant as time goes by.
I will continue to put the pressure on the Government in Parliament. They have appointed a new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and a new Sports Minister, which gives us the chance to make the case again. Keep an eye on my blog, I’ll be posting regular updates about my work on the campaign.
- You can also follow @savegrassroots on twitter for updates from the broader campaign set up by football activist Kenny Saunders.