The Premier League will share at least £1bn of its new £5bn domestic TV deal outside of the top flight, with grassroots facilities identified as a priority area for investment.
The announcement came after the first meeting of the 20 Premier League clubs since Sky Sports and BT Sport spent £5.14m on live domestic rights to Premier League football from 2016-17 to 2018/19.
In an attempt to stave off criticism of the league following the record-breaking deal, chief executive Richard Scudamore announced that each of the 20 top flight clubs will redistribute at least £50m over three seasons. They have also committed to adopt the Living Wage for all full-time employees by the start of the 2016/17 season.
“The clubs have always stepped up to the plate when it comes to sharing their success,” said Scudamore. “They appreciate that the development of the Premier League is contingent to a high degree on continued high levels of passionate support and a vibrant football pyramid.
“These are unprecedented levels of redistribution in world sport, let alone football, which will deliver long-term progress for English football whether you are a fan, lower league club or involved in the grassroots.”
Full details of the investment will not be known until later this year or in early 2016, after the Premier League has sold their next international TV rights package – expected to generate a further £3bn – and the results of an ongoing Ofcom investigation are known.
The £1bn represents a 40% increase on the current £700m the League shares – compared to a 70% increase in domestic TV revenue – and much of this will be spent on parachute payments to relegated clubs, a contractual commitment for the League.
In addition, the clubs have agreed to five priority areas for investment:
* Grassroots facilities
* Participation – sporting and educational development of young people
* Fan engagement and matchday experience
* Solidarity with lower leagues
* Supporting disadvantaged groups
The Premier League currently invests £56m a year into grassroots football and good causes and will invest in more than 150 new 3G artificial grass pitches during the current three-year deal (2013/14 – 2015/16).
Kenny Saunders, founder of the Save Grass Roots Football campaign, believes they need to do much more.
“This announcement was nothing more than a publicity stunt,” Saunders told Club Website. “Once you’ve taken out money for parachute payments, the actual amount that will filter down to grassroots football will be a minimum percentage.
“It will be interesting to see what the breakdown is. Unfortunately when they come out with a big statement like this, they should have some figures to back that up, so we know exactly what is going to come back into grassroots football.
“The Premier League said in the Football Task Force agreement in 1999 that they were going to invest five percent of their TV income in grassroots football. That’s never been the case, so why should we trust that they are going to put this new money into the grassroots game?”