The grassroots football community has thrown its support behind the Football Association's decision to sell title sponsorship of the FA Cup to Emirates if it means millions of pounds more find their way to the grassroots game.
Two thirds (67%) of Club Website members have backed the FA's controversial decision to sell its flagship competition, which will be known as the Emirates FA Cup from August. One in four (26%) were against the move while 7% were undecided.
The FA have made a reported £30m from the new sponsorship deal which it plans to reinvest in the game, with a focus on grassroots facilities and coaching, according to FA chairman Greg Dyke.
"I know there will be traditionalists who take issue with the subtle renaming, but all of the money the FA receives from partnerships such as this goes back to the game at all levels," said Dyke.
"I want and expect to increase our funding into the very areas that need it most - grassroots facilities, coaching and young player development.
"Partnerships like this only enhance our opportunity to support football throughout the country. The money we receive will all get spent building new all-weather pitches around the country. And I think that is worth the deal."
Emirates are a familiar name in English football. The airline sponsors Arsenal - along with their home ground and annual pre-season tournament - as well as European heavyweights Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Hamburg.
Previously the competition had been known as The FA Cup with Budweiser, but this is the first time the oldest football tournament in the world has had a sponsor's prefix - a move that has angered traditionalists but one by which Dyke stands firm.
“I think that people who object to the name change are the same people who are sentimental about kicking off at three o’clock," added Dyke. "The world changes. The reason we kick off at 5.30pm today is because that is the time when most people are available to watch.
“When I took over this job I felt the FA Cup had been in decline for some years. Now it is enjoying something of a revival. The Cup still captures the imagination, it is still one of the world’s most iconic pieces of silverware.”
In October the FA announced a £230m plan to revolutionise grassroots football facilities through the development of hundreds of new 3G pitches and 150 new football ‘hubs’ in 30 cities by 2020.
Details of how this new £30m FA Cup sponsorship will be reinvested in the game are yet to be announced but, having welcomed the move, many in the grassroots community are keen to see the money ends up being spent where it has been promised.
Grassroots coach Daren Bavister, commenting on club Website's Facebook page, said: "Statements like this make the FA accountable and if the funds do not find there (sic) way to the intended they will need to be brought to account. Sponsorship? nothing (sic) is sacred now, however apart from the Emirates Stadium most other names get lost/dropped anyway."
Club Website poll result: Was the FA right to sell title sponsorship for 'The Emirates FA Cup' if it means millions of pounds for grassroots football?
* Yes - 66.7%
* No - 26.2%
* Maybe - 7.1%
Total votes cast: 1,052
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Image courtesy of TheFA.com.