Save Grassroots Football

An e-petition has recently been set up to try and force the Premier League to give more money to grassroots football, and it needs your support to help get it passed.

Set up by ex-nonleague player Kenny Saunders and Bolton Northeast MP David Crausby, the petition wants the government to make it compulsory that the Premier League gives 7.5% of it’s obscene new televsion rights to the grassroots game. The new deal could be worth as much as five billion pounds globally over the next three seasons, and the percentage suggested by this petition would amount to somewhere in the region of £375,000,000. This amount, huge though it is, would barely make a dent on the Premier League’s coffers, but would make an incredible difference to our beloved grassroots game. At the moment, the PL (I can’t bring myself to type their name in full anymore) give the Conference a “solidarity payment” of six million pounds a season.

This is the official description of the e-petition, taken from the direct.gov.uk website:

“We call on the Government to ensure that grassroots football receives financial support from the Premier League.

Government cuts mean that many Local Authorities are no longer able to fund grassroots football. Fees for basic facilities are climbing to the point where ordinary people are being priced out of our national sport.

The Premier League continues to grow in popularity around the world. Domestic broadcasting rights for 2013-14 to 2015-16 have been sold for £3bn, combined with global rights the Premier League could bring in as much as £5bn over the next three seasons.

This cash boost must not be wasted on ever-increasing wages for players when grassroots football is struggling.

The Government must encourage the FA to ensure that 7.5% of money from broadcasting rights goes to fund grassroots football. If the FA and Premier League are unable to do so voluntarily the Government must be willing to take further action to make this compulsory.”

Now, some of you reading this might ask the question “why should the PL help non-league football?” and that is a valid enquiry to make. After all, the broadcasting rights are negotiated by the PL, for the PL. But think about it; lots of players start out in non-league football before making the step up to the very highest level. Just look at the likes of Stuart Pearce, Ian Wright, Rickie Lambert, and Jermain Beckford, among others. All have played in the top flight, with the first three playing and scoring for England. If we want young players to be able to have a dream and attempt to follow it, we need top clubs to start helping out the grassroots game, especially in these tough financial times.

We are seeing way too many clubs struggle financially and, while yes some of them bring it on themselves through mismanagement (can you say deed poll!), many are just struggling to get fans through the turnstiles. A lot of this is down to the TV culture of football today. Far too many people would rather sit in front of their TVs on a Saturday afternoon watching Jeff and the boys, “supporting” a club they have no hope or intention of ever watching in the flesh, instead of actually getting out of their armchairs and getting along to their local non-league club.

I was the same. Until 2011, I happily passed a Saturday afternoon watching the videprinter on Sky Sports News. Then, I decided to take my son, two at the time, to watch Hampton & Richmond Borough. They lost 0-4 at home to Chelmsford City. But you know what? I was hooked, and two years later I am a press officer at one of the best clubs I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. That’s how this site came about!

If you still need convincing of the validity of this campaign, how about this; an eloquent analogy made on the BBC Non League Show on Sunday August 25th by Kenny Saunders himself;

“If you think of football as a house, you don’t build a house from the roof. You build it from the foundations.”

And from Harrow Borough manager Dave Anderson:

“Non league is described as grassroots football. If you don’t feed the roots, the plant dies.”

Sign the petition. You know it makes sense.

You can find, and sign, the petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/46134. You can also follow Kenny Saunders’ campaign on twitter, and be kept up to date with its progress: @savegrassroots

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About James Bartaby

Hey, I'm James and I'm relatively new to non-league football, having only taken in my first match in September 2011. Despite it being a 0-4 defeat for Hampton & Richmond Borough, I became a huge fan of the club and NL in general. So much so that they are now the first club that I mention when talking about which team I support! I just got massively disillusioned with top flight football in this country and the attitudes of the lawmakers and top clubs in general, and I wanted to start taking my son to see decent football. I am now the club's Deputy Press Officer, and loving every minute!

Posted on August 28, 2013, in UTL Archive and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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