New sports minister Tracey Crouch has said she is “genuinely appalled” at the Premier League’s contribution to improving grassroots football facilities, calling on the league to invest “much more” of its multi-billion riches in the amateur game.
In April the Premier League announced plans to share over £1bn of its record new domestic TV deal – worth £5bn over three years from 2016-17 – outside of the top flight, but Crouch believes they must do more.
“That billion includes parachute payments so we expect roughly around a third to go to the grassroots,” said Crouch, addressing a Sport and Recreation Alliance summit in her first public speech as sports minister this month.
“That is divided in various ways so by the time you get down to talking about artificial pitches it’s not very much money at all. I want to see a lot more from Europe’s wealthiest league.”
The Premier League will earn an expected £8bn from domestic and overseas TV rights from 2016-17 to 2018-19. Whilst the league argues its first responsibility is to fans by investing in the best playing talent and facilities, it also points to a £168m investment in grassroots football and ‘good causes’ during the current three year TV deal.
“I don’t think enough of the money has gone into the grassroots from the last TV deal,” added Crouch, who is an FA-qualified coach and has run a girls’ football team for the last decade.
“I think the fact we are still lagging behind other footballing nations in our facilities is appalling and I really want to make sure the Premier League make a decent contribution to improving that situation. I am genuinely rather appalled that they don’t.
“They raise a phenomenal amount of money from TV rights and it was a phenomenal amount of money the clubs made in profit. It’s a very wealthy league. I would like to see much more of that money go down to the grassroots.”