Corbyn promises more Premier League football wealth for grassroots

But his 5 per cent TV rights target is lower than the current level

Jeremy Corbyn visits Hackney Marshes to highlight football plans

Jeremy Corbyn is to call for more of football’s wealth to be re-invested in the grassroots of the game, as he announces a new Labour policy of a “flexible football ticket” to stop travelling fans losing money on pre-booked train tickets when their match is rescheduled for TV at short notice.

The Labour leader will repeat the pledge in his party’s manifesto, that at least 5 per cent of new Premier League TV rights deals should be diverted to the grassroots game.

In an event at the famous amateur pitches in Hackney Marshes, east London, Mr Corbyn will say: "The FA Cup final marks the greatest day of the football season.

"Millions of football fans across the country, including myself, are eagerly awaiting kick off this evening at Wembley.

"Despite the game we all love receiving lucrative domestic and international TV deals, the grassroots game has been shamefully starved of funding over recent years.

"Too often, youth football teams cannot find pitches to play on and when they do they are expensive and the facilities are not fit for purpose.

"All-weather pitches are like gold-dust and coaching badges can cost unaffordable amounts.

"Under these circumstances, it is no surprise we are not nurturing the talent that we all know exists within the beautiful game.

"To address this lack of funding and lack of facilities, Labour in government will ensure that 5 per cent of domestic and international TV rights money is diverted to the grassroots game.

"This will ensure the footballing talent of young girls and boys is harnessed, and football is a game for the many, not the few."

In December the Premier League announced it would invest £100 million a year on grassroots football, which is roughly equal to 5.1 per cent of its current £5.8 billion three year domestic deal. When the more complex international rights figures are included, the figure rises to an estimated £8.2bn over three years, of which £100 million a year represents around 3.6 per cent.

When payments made to Football League and National League clubs are included, the figure is more like seven per cent.

A spokesperson for the Premier League said: “The Premier League has always met its commitments and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The scale of Premier League support and investment in the wider game, and in communities and schools is unprecedented in professional sport. The financial value of this investment has been, and continues to be, greater than five per cent of the League’s turnover each season.”

Responding to the announcement, a Conservative spokesman said: “Yet again, Jeremy Corbyn is talking complete nonsense. There is more money going into grassroots football than ever before, thanks both to record investment by a Conservative government and a deal we struck with the Premier League to put at least £100 million a year directly into the grassroots game.

“It is worrying that a man with such a poor grasp of the facts could be Prime Minister in less than two weeks time. If he can’t get something like this right, just think what a mess he would make of the Brexit negotiations.”

Mr Corbyn, a lifelong Arsenal fan, is not expected to attend tomorrow’s FA Cup Final.

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