In Brewster’s Millions Richard Pryor struggled to spend $30m in 30 days. A cursory knowledge of the football landscape is enough to know it should be much easier for the Premier League to distribute £1bn especially as, unlike Pryor, the League wants everyone to know about it.
However, despite the headlines accompanying the Premier League’s great giveaway, there is not £1bn to dispense. Once parachute payments (awarded by Premier League clubs to themselves to ease the pain of relegation, estimated value £530m), and solidarity payments to Football League clubs (estimated £210m) are deducted, there is £260m left.
This is still, to be fair, a decent sum of money, nearly £90m a year (it is a three-year giveaway). Or roughly what Manchester United spent on Angel Di Maria and Luke Shaw last summer.
The most pressing need nationwide is for better facilities. The Premier League currently puts £12m a year into the estimable Football Foundation. Fifteen years ago it put in £20m. If it can now stretch to £30m a year the foundation can step up its excellent work. However, if the League puts in the same proportion of TV income as it did in 2000 it would be £100m. Every year.
Then there is Greg Dyke’s vision of 30 3G football hubs by 2020. Assuming the Government, as indicated by George Osborne, meets its promise, and the FA finds the £50m Dyke has committed, the Premier League, it is hoped, will stump up the other £50m.
Which leaves £130m. How about the fans, who help make the product so globally desired? The Football Supporters’ Federation calculates £63m would be enough to subsidise a £20 cap on away ticket prices. It may have to settle for a £30 cap.
If there is any left the Premier League could expand some of the excellent community projects its clubs do at home and abroad, but there may not be. It turns out it is quite easy to spend £1bn in the bottomless pit of need which is today’s grassroots football, especially if more than half is not going anywhere near the grassroots...
Maybe those parachute payments need rethinking, especially as they damage the competitiveness of the Championship, and help encourage Premier League clubs to overspend.Reuse content