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MP backs cheap Premier League tickets for under 21s

Published 29/11/2016

An MP wants legislation on discounted Premier League tickets for under 21s
An MP wants legislation on discounted Premier League tickets for under 21s

Premier League clubs should be required by law to offer 10% of tickets at discounted rates to fans aged 21 and under, according to an MP.

Labour's Justin Madders also wants a levy placed on transfer fees involving clubs from the top division which would raise cash for grassroots facilities.

And councils should have to assess transport arrangements and the difficulties fans might encounter by early or late fixtures - usually moved from 3pm to be broadcast on television - when approving kick-off times, Mr Madders added.

The MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston is proposing the three measures in his Football Supporters (Access) Bill, which he will seek to introduce to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The BBC's price of football survey for 2016 found that the cheapest Premier League match day tickets cost an average of £29.05 while the most expensive are, on average, £53.65.

A £30 cap is currently in place on the price of tickets for away fans at Premier League matches.

But Mr Madders, who supports Manchester United, said he wanted action to help younger home supporters too.

He told the Press Association: "The average age of a Premier League fan is 41, maybe a bit higher.

"What we're saying is 10% of all tickets should be discounted for those under 22. That way you've got the next generation of fans involved and engaged.

"Because if they're not used to going in their 20s, why would they start going in their 40s?"

On kick-off times, Mr Madders said they can sometimes be changed for television purposes at "quite short notice".

He also said: "You can be at Wembley at a 5.30pm kick-off - if you're from the North, how are you going to get home? It's just ridiculous.

"Liverpool are playing Man City at 5.30pm on New Year's Eve - it's great for me, I can watch the game - but if you're trying to get to that game, public transport shuts down after about eight o'clock on New Year's Eve.

"So what we want is local authorities - because they have to approve kick-off times - to basically consider the accessibility issues for match day fans as part of that.

"So it's mainly about that. It's also about people who have got the fixtures at the start of the season, they arrange with their employer the shifts they're going to do, the travel and so on and then it's moved at 10 days' notice.

"That is equally frustrating."

Premier League clubs spent record figures of £1.165billion during the 2016 summer transfer window, up 34% on the previous year.

Deloitte's sports business group cited the division's new television deal and the pressure to respond to Leicester City's shock title win as the reasons behind the spending.

This included Manchester United paying the highest individual fee in football history, £89million for France midfielder Paul Pogba.

Mr Madders said, as an example, a 0.1% levy would have raised more than £1 million for grassroots football.

He said: "My kids play at facilities which are normally okay but there are sometimes occasions where the pitch is just a ploughed field or games get called off because they're not drained properly."

Mr Madders said he understood that councils are cash-strapped, adding his focus was on encouraging football clubs to provide more money.

He said: "It's really about saying there's a need to get some more investment.

"When you look at the number of Premier League players now who have come through the ranks domestically it's nowhere near what it was 20 years ago."

Mr Madders said his Bill was designed to encourage debate on the issues.

It is highly unlikely to become law without the Government's support.

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