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Political football as Labour vows to make sport ‘for the many, not the few’

Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn says he’s ‘eagerly awaiting’ kick-off in the FA Cup final.


Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn (John Walton/PA)

Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn (John Walton/PA)

Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn (John Walton/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn will use FA Cup final day to commit to developing a “flexible football ticket” to help fans travel to matches which are moved for television coverage with minimum disruption.

A Labour government will work with train operators, broadcasters and football clubs to stop fans being left with worthless train tickets and having to buy new ones when games are re-arranged at short notice, he will say.

Mr Corbyn will also use cup final day, “the greatest day of the football season”, to highlight Labour’s manifesto commitment to ensuring 5% of the Premier League’s domestic and international television rights income is diverted to the grassroots game.

On a visit to Hackney Marshes football pitches, the Arsenal fan will pledge to make football “a game for the many, not the few” – before travelling to Wembley to watch his team take on Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.

He will say: “The FA Cup final marks the greatest day of the football season. Millions of football fans across the country, including myself, are eagerly awaiting kick-off this evening at Wembley.

“Despite the game we all love receiving lucrative domestic and international TV deals, the grassroots game has been shamefully starved of funding over recent years. Too often, youth football teams cannot find pitches to play on and when they do they are expensive and the facilities are not fit for purpose.”

He will add: “All-weather pitches are like gold-dust and coaching badges can cost unaffordable amounts. Under these circumstances, it is no surprise we are not nurturing the talent that we all know exists within the beautiful game.

“To address this lack of funding and lack of facilities, Labour in government will ensure that 5% of domestic and international TV rights money is diverted to the grassroots game.

“This will ensure the footballing talent of young girls and boys is harnessed, and football is a game for the many, not the few.”

A Premier League spokesman said: “The scale of Premier League support and investment in the wider game, and in communities and schools, is unprecedented in professional sport.

“Along with our clubs we provide a range of support for the development of football outside the Premier League, including solidarity payments, youth development grants, and community funding for all EFL (Football League) and National League clubs.

“The League and its clubs fund community facilities across England and Wales, operate national and local sports participation projects, and have recently launched Premier League Primary Stars – a programme that will see the League support 10,000 primary schools across the country by 2019.

“In addition to our support for the development of English and Welsh football, and for communities and schools, Premier League clubs last year committed to paying all permanent staff the living wage and are currently engaged in a major programme of improvements for disabled fans.”

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