Premier League told to honour grassroots money deal in the wake of England’s poor showing at the World Cup

Labour claims a ‘moral obligation’ to abide by £50m spending requirement

The Premier League is under renewed pressure to redistribute more of its lucrative television revenue to grassroots football in the wake of England’s poor showing at the World Cup in Brazil.

The new Premier League season, which begins in just over three weeks’ time, is the middle campaign of the three-year period for which it has sold domestic rights to Sky Sports and BT Sport for more than £3bn.

There were new calls last night for the League to honour fully commitments to the grassroots game made almost 15 years ago. The Labour sport spokesman, Clive Efford, told The Independent that the Premier League was failing to meet its “moral obligation” to the English game.

The Premier League made a commitment, after the Football Task Force report of 1999, to contribute 5 per cent of its annual UK TV revenue to grassroots football. Of its current domestic TV revenue, a 5 per cent contribution would mean investing more than £50m annually into grassroots programmes.

The understanding at the Premier League is that while it does exceed that figure in annual investment in good causes and grassroots sport, that particular 5 per cent obligation expired a few years ago.

This morning the Labour Party will release its “More Sport For All” consultation document, which includes a proposal for the Premier League’s domestic television money to be levied so the organisation  meets the 5 per cent contribution, to help strengthen community sport.

“I think that there is a moral obligation on the Premier League to meet that commitment,” Efford, the MP for Eltham, said last night. “The Premier League will not get away with brushing off the Government any more.”

Efford insisted that the Premier League is “not spending anywhere near” what it ought to on grassroots football and that it was “absolutely essential” that it meets the agreement.

The Labour sport spokesman, Clive Efford The Labour sport spokesman, Clive Efford
The Premier League would claim that it meets all the agreements which bind it, and that it is responsible for generous spending on good causes, not all of which are categorised as “grassroots”.

“The Premier League is the leader among European and domestic sporting bodies in terms of the revenue it redistributes to grassroots and community sport,” said a Premier League statement. “Last season we invested in 52 new artificial grass pitches [AGPs] and hundreds of new grass pitches across the country.

“Our money will deliver a further 100-plus new community AGPs in the next two years. In addition £60m flows down to the Football League and Conference clubs in the form of solidarity, youth development and communities funding.”

Last month the Local Government Association also demanded that the Premier League contribute more of its television revenue to the grassroots game.

Commenting on Labour’s proposal, a Conservative spokesman said: “This is yet another short-term gimmick from Labour. It is a tax on football fans, which will mean higher ticket prices for ordinary people wanting to watch our national sport.”

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