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SBD Global/October 23, 2013/International Football

Premier League, FA and U.K. Government To Contribute $165M To Grassroots Football

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The Premier League's guaranteed contribution of £12M ($19.5M) a year to grassroots football facilities in the U.K. over the next three years is "unlikely to be enough to quell criticism of its redistribution formula," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The reason is because of the "huge hike in broadcasting income that will lead to a windfall" of £5.5B ($8.9B) over the same three-year period. In addition to the Premier League's £12M contribution, the FA will "contribute the same amount" and the government will invest £10M ($16.2M) per year through Sport England, which is "funded by Lottery and exchequer money." The Premier League has been criticized for "not diverting more of its broadcasting billions to grassroots facilities." The EPL, however, argues it has "maintained funding when others have not and must continue to invest the majority of its income in fostering a healthy product." Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore said, "Premier League clubs are committed to playing an active role as hubs of their communities, particularly in the area of sports participation, from the grassroots level through to their academies" (GUARDIAN, 10/21). The BBC reported the Premier League, U.K. government and FA have committed to spend £102M ($165.4M) on "improving grassroots football facilities." The Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund will "provide financial support in the three years" starting in January. U.K. Sports Minister Helen Grant said, "Sport has such a power to change lives, and this will make a positive contribution to many communities." The scheme "aims to develop improved pitches and more quality coaching." It will be managed by the Football Foundation on "behalf of the funding partners, and is designed to raise the standard of English-born footballers by improving the experience of playing the game at the lowest levels" (BBC, 10/21).

SCUDAMORE'S PERSONAL TRIUMPH: In London, Jim White wrote the "fund is something of a personal triumph for Scudamore, who has spent much of the past year persuading his member clubs to maintain their level of support for grassroots facilities," which began in '00 with the "launch of the original Football Foundation plan." The Premier League is insisting that "more of the money will be spent in the inner city constituencies where they largely ply their trade." Scudamore: "We’re adamant that a high percentage of the new facilities will be built in areas of deprivation." This is the "payback Scudamore believes the clubs could yield from their investment: it will help nurture the next generation of English professionals." Scudamore added, "We’ve already produced Wayne Rooney in this country. You can argue that in the past we produced decent players despite the lack of facilities. But I believe times have changed. There are more people in urban areas, it is an urban problem, large numbers of kids there are living without decent places to play" (TELEGRAPH, 10/21).
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