Belfast Telegraph

Minister calls for greater funding

New sports minister Tracey Crouch says the Premier League should give more of its riches to grassroots football - and says there are a "variety of levers" to encourage the top flight to do so.

Crouch told her local radio station in Kent that funding was a "massive issue" for small clubs in her first interview since being appointed in the post-election reshuffle.

She flagged up the Premier League's domestic television rights deal announced in February - mistakenly referring to the figure as £6billion instead of £5.1billion - and claimed that of the £1billion the league has promised will be invested outside of the top flight, only a third of that will go to the real grassroots.

Asked on BBC Radio Kent if the Premier League should give more to the grassroots, Crouch said: "I do. We need to be aware that the Premier League is one of the richest leagues in the world and a lot of grassroots clubs - and I have been a member of one for the last eight years - struggle for a whole variety of reasons. Funding is a massive issue particularly around the infrastructure that supports the clubs.

"The Premier League has recently just got £6billion worth of TV rights. That's just the UK rights, it doesn't include foreign countries buying the rights yet.

"They have said they'll put £1billion into grassroots which sounds fantastic but I guess only a third of that will filter down to what you and I would call grassroots and I don't think that's enough.

"We can certainly persuade them to put more money into the grassroots and encourage them do to so through a variety of levers."

The Premier League has declined to respond to her comments.

Crouch has previously been a strong critic of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup and as recently as November Crouch called for the staging of the finals to be reconsidered by football's world governing body FIFA due to corruption claims, terrorism funding links and the heat.

Speaking on Friday morning however, the MP for Chatham and Aylesford said the main issue was that the tournament was played in the winter.

She said: "I would rather see it being played in the winter in Qatar than in the summer, I wouldn't like to play in searing 50 degree heat, let alone watching it in the stadium.

"I have been quite vocal in my views on this and if it's going to be played in the winter then that's better."


From Belfast Telegraph