Premier League faces renewed calls for 5% of TV revenue to be distributed to grassroots football
Premier League clubs could be forced to pay a levy on TV revenue to increase support for grassroots football, according to new policy proposals from the Labour Party.
Labour is consulting on policy plans that aim to boost investment in community sport by "getting tough" on the Premier League, which will earn £5.5bn from its current three-year domestic and overseas TV deals.
The wide-ranging consultation document - which also examines the possibility of a levy on sports betting companies to increase provision for community sport and help raise awareness about problem gambling - calls on the Premier League to honour a commitment made to the Football Task Force in 1999 to contribute five percent of its TV revenue to grassroots football, criticising the league for falling short of the target.
The Premier League argues that not only did that agreement expire in 2006/07, but that it required them to contribute five percent of its domestic TV revenue only, a figure it currently exceeds with the £56m spent each year on grassroots football and community projects across the country.
Critics argue that the five percent should also apply to overseas TV revenue, which generates over £800m a year, and that only £12m of the £56m is directly invested in grassroots football, through the FA & Premier League Facilities Fund, which also receives £12m a year from the Football Association and £10m a year from government. The remaining £44m finds it way to other good causes, such as education or health projects, or schemes looking to get people back to work.
Labour has criticised the Premier League for a "lack of clarity" over what counts towards the levy, while Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford MP told the The Independent that the Premier League has a "moral obligation" to meet the commitment and that they "will not get away with brushing off the Government any more."
The announcement increases pressure on the Premier League, who also face renewed calls from the Save Grassroots Football campaign, backed by Labour MP David Crausby to commit 7.5 percent of TV revenue to the grassroots game.
The Premier League remains steadfast, pointing out that no other domestic or European sporting body redistributes more revenue to grassroots and community sport.
"Last season we invested in 52 new artificial grass pitches (AGPs) and hundreds of new grass pitches across the country via the new Premier League and FA Facilities Fund," said a Premier League statement.
"Our money will deliver a further 100 plus new community AGPs in the next two years. In addition £60m flows down to the Football League and Conference clubs in the form of solidarity, Youth Development and communities funding.
"Working closely with our clubs, we also support projects that focus on improving sports coaching in schools and inspiring young people to play sport. All of this activity is part of our £56m per season investment in good causes and grassroots sport.
"We understand that all those interested in the long-term health of English football want to see better grassroots facilities and higher levels of participation, particularly amongst young people. This is why we are committed to continue the unprecedented levels of funding we provide as well as being happy to engage on these matters."
Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman said: “Our consultation looks at a number of ideas which aim to boost investment in community and grassroots sports by getting tough with the Premier League and betting companies, bringing back two hours of sport at schools a week and encouraging more people to take part – girls as well as boys.
“We need strong government leadership to create a long term innovative plan for sport and that is what this consultation seeks to do.”
You can find out more about Labour's plans and submit your views via the Your Britain website.
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