Trust to demand share of bonanza

THE FOOTBALL TRUST, the cash-strapped organisation that funds ground and stadium improvements for clubs in England and Wales, is expected to press for a share of any television rights bonanza.

The trust, funded by the football pools operators, has been engulfed by a financial crisis as a result of the impact of the National Lottery. This year, its income is forecast to fall by 40 per cent. Before the introduction of the Lottery, it earned pounds 20m a year from the pools, and pounds 14.4m from Spot the Ball competitions. But for 1995/1996, it will only earn pounds 4.5m from Spot the Ball, while the pools payout could fall to pounds 16m.

At present, costs for ground improvements total pounds 750m, of which the trust is slated to fund some pounds 200m. Spokesman Philip French warns of an overall shortfall of pounds 33m, which threatens to leave many clubs stuck with their existing facilities.

A number of club chairmen have already spoken out about the need for other sources of funding to be provided to the trust. Sir John Hall, chairman of Premiership leaders Newcastle United, has called for Premier League income to be redirected to the Football Trust, as has Spurs' Alan Sugar.