Premier League to double grassroots funding

English top flight clubs to contribute over £100m per season to grassroots football from 2016-17

Flying down the wing

The Premier League’s investment in grassroots football is set to double from next season, as part of the government’s new strategy for sport.

The agreement will see the Premier League double its investment in grassroots and community football over the coming three seasons – to more than £100m a year – to help improve facilites and boost participation, although campaigners believe the increase in funding is still not enough.

Details of the deal are yet to be finalised pending an Ofcom investigation into how the Premier League sells its domestic broadcasting rights, but sports minister Tracey Crouch – who last June said she was “appalled” at the Premier League’s investment in the grassroots game – made it one of the headlines of the government’s new sports strategy, announced last month.

The Premier League has come under increasing pressure to invest more in grassroots football since it secured a record-breaking £5.14bn domestic TV rights deal, which will kick in at the start of the 2016-17 season.

The country’s top 20 clubs currently invest a combined £56m a year into grassroots football and a range of community projects – such as Premier League Kicks and their School Sport programme – so doubling that investment will mean annual contributions of a £112m or more from next season.

Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore said: “The Premier League already has the largest community sport programme of any comparable sports organisation in the world and we have now agreed with the government to at least double our funding over the next three seasons. The success of the Premier League creates a great opportunity to grow the game at all levels.”

But with the sale of international TV rights expected to bring the Premier League’s total revenue for the next three seasons to an eye-watering £8bn, many in the game believe that doubling investment in grassroots football still falls short of what is required.

The Save Grassroots Football campaign has led calls on the Premier League to invest more into grassroots football for the last three years and, despite last month’s announcement, campaign founder Kenny Saunders wants to see the league do even more.

“Back in 1999 the Premier League agreed to contribute five per cent of TV revenue, which under the current deal is [expected to be] over £400 million,” Saunders told Sky Sports News HQ. “I don’t think we will get that into grassroots football, but we need £400m.

“The government did a survey regarding the facilities; it would cost £5 billion to improve it – that’s the state grassroots football is in. You look at Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin – we’ve got thousands of them in grassroots football. We need better more affordable facilities.

“It’s not just the FA and Premier League, it’s government as well. They are slashing council budgets in the next months – pitches will be sold off, sports clubs will go.”

David Crausby MP, a loyal supporter of the Save Grassroots campaign, last week questioned the sports minister on the government’s “vague plans” for a new deal with the Premier League on grassroots funding.

He welcomed her commitment to the Premier League doubling their investment – which equates to 6.5% of the new domestic TV deal – but questioned why the league’s revenue from overseas rights are not being taken into account.

“This is certainly a step forward,” responded Crausby on his blog. “It’s a better deal than the one agreed by the Government three years ago and shows the positive impact that the constant campaigning by everyone involved with the Save Grassroots Football campaign has had.

“However, I still see no justification for excluding the international TV rights from this arrangement. These are now multi-billion pound deals in their own right and a huge part of the Premier Leagues (sic) income. The deals keep on expanding, leaving an elite flooded with money while children are left with a water logged (sic) pitch.

“With this deal the Government are short changing children’s football by tens of millions of pounds every year.”

This article appeared in The Clubhouse – the monthly newsletter from Club Website. To get the best grassroots news, offers and competitions straight to your inbox every month, sign up today!

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Dan Pope
Writer at Teamer
Freelance writer, editor and copywriter, specialising in football and with a passion for grassroots sport. Former editor at Club Website.

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12 Comments

  1. Nigel Board on January 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    It’s good news but the fastest drop out rate is in adult football we asked our local county for help to improve facilities for adult teams including veterans at our ground but they didn’t even bother to respond, the game is awash with cash but we have teams playing with goals that are falling apart.

  2. Ian Breeze on January 28, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Well done to Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch.
    The imbalance between Premier League income and grassroots investment must be addressed if we are to grow the game at all levels.
    Hopefully this is merely the first step on a journey which can provide opportunities for every football participant.

  3. Mike Turner on January 28, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Our local council has cut the funding to our sports club (football, cricket, tennis and bowls from £20,000 a year to nothing. It’s quite right that our two major sports are awash with money. They have a fundamental obligation to put money into the grass roots. There are grand sounding schemes in both football and cricket which frankly achieve very little while money spent on facilities could achieve so much. The current situation is shameful. Without the base of the pyramid there is no pyramid at all!

  4. Mike Smith on January 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, it’s good news but the organisation and advisors who allocate funds have no idea how to work with people, clubs and anyone at real grass roots level. There is no sensible overview or monitoring of short/long term projects. More experienced grass roots organisations and personnel should assist local FA’s in choosing where the funding should be best spent. Nigel’s point above is, I am afraid, the national norm !!

  5. Thomas Hall on January 28, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    All this funding when clubs still have to find 50%
    Give clubs 100% they can afford it

  6. Rod Cuming on January 28, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    All participants in football start at grassroots level . Keep up the campaigning and get all parties to do the right thing !

  7. Vernon Leese on January 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

    We have one pitch on site here and yet have 3 Saturday League teams running, a Sunday Vets team and another local team that hires on a Sunday when the Vets are away. Our pitch cannot sustain the pressure of games withought some serious drainage works to give better growth and sustainability. The Premier teams provide a spectacle but a large proportion of players receiving these lucrative deals are overseas players. We need to focus on trying to grow home tallent which will only be achieved by local clubs being able to play football on a regular basis.

  8. Mark Oliver on January 30, 2016 at 12:15 am

    There are a number of factors to consider when trying to improve grassroots football for our children.

    1. UEFA data shows that England has 1,395 coaches holding Uefa’s A and Pro qualification badges compared to Germany’s 6,934, France’s 3,308 and Spain’s whopping 15,423.

    2. There are 639 high-quality publicly available artificial pitches in England compared with 3,735 in Germany. Whereas grass pitches tend to be used for four to five hours a week, with matches often cancelled due to inclement weather, 3G pitches can be used for 70 to 80 hours. They also promote better technical skills at a younger age that, combined with a new approach to concentrating funding and the best coaches at younger age groups, Dyke hopes will improve the quality of young footballers coming through the system.

    3. Lack of indoor facilities given our rather poor weather means many children are not staying in the game. Training is disrupted and technical ability is not allowed to flourish.

    4. FA needs more funding to accelerate this. Every school in the country needs better facilities – 3G and with a covered roof if not sides.

    5. Best coaches not headhunted and given mentoring role for youth players who complete coaching badges.

    6. Young players not expected to complete FA Level 2 and youth awards by 21 to improve them as players and create larger pool of future coaches.

  9. Brett Sandiford on February 1, 2016 at 9:05 am

    The sports minister is correct we need more money for grass roots, but also for adult football as well. Our club has currently out grown our pitches and are looking for new premises with changing rooms. The problem we have found is there seems to be enough adult pitches in our area, which could be converted for grass roots as well, but the quality is very poor. Its mainly the turf condition and drainage problems. All the council seem to be able to do is mow the grass and that’s it, There should be a facility for aerating at least once a season and overseeding etc. this could help with the quality & drainage situation. Yet, this all comes back down to money.

  10. Mike Turner on February 2, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    When I played junior football in the north east fifty years ago we played on pitches without a blade of grass, no nets, no lines to speak of and a ball that would probably be banned today for health and safety reasons. Things have improved remarkably since those days along with changing expectations. However we seem now to have reached a plateau or are even going backwards. Money, as always, is key but too many grants depend on input clubs can’t afford. It really is time for the FA to put its hand the those extremely deep pockets and start spending money where it matters.

  11. Lisa Samiotis on February 3, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I run a junior football club in Towcester with over 200 children, we have 18 teams between under 7’s and under 18’s and we have ZERO facilities. We have no pitches or changing rooms, we are constantly having to lease playing fields in the surrounding villages and pay our local leisure centre a staggering amount of money to train there in the winter months. We have now got to a stage where we cannot take on any more children over 7 years of age due to lack of facilities. Our town is having around 1000 houses built over the next 2 – 10 years. We are in a desperate need for pitches and faciilites NOW. Please help.

  12. david bray on February 16, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Please don’t forget wales in all this we have top flight clubs as well and are just as much in need of massive investment. My u13s have currently not played since middle of October. We have to pay a fortune out for indoor winter training. And to hire a 3g pjtch is upwards of £100 a hour.out of our league in recent years have come ramsey.bale, Jones and numerous other we hav3 the talent now we just the investment

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