United Kingdom: Investment in Grass Roots Football

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

The UK is currently in the middle of a General Election fever prior to going to the Polls on 12 December 2019 to elect a new Parliament and a new Government.

The three main political parties – the governing Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – are all vying for the votes of the electorate by promising all kinds of things.

The latest offering comes from the Conservatives, who have pledged to invest £550 million in grass roots football as part of plans to support a UK bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup, if they win the election and form the next Government.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, claims that this investment would “transform lives with a legacy to match the 2012 Olympics.” Also, that it would provide a boost to existing plans for amateur football in England.

The opposition Labour Party stated that this election pledge would not make up for “years of brutal cuts” to sporting facilities in the UK, due to a decade of austerity under the Conservatives.

Whilst, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to re-introduce safe-standing facilities at top-flight football stadia in England. They claim that this practice works safely in the rest of Europe and will offer more choice, a better atmosphere and cheaper tickets for football fans.

It is not clear where the money for this funding would come from, but it is thought that the Government would seek the financial help of “private partners” – in other words, from corporate sponsors.

The English Football Association has pointed out that only one-in-three community football pitches are of an adequate standard and that one-in-six amateur matches do not take place due to poor pitch conditions.

Let us see who wins the Election, and, if the Conservatives, whether they keep to their promises to improve grass roots football!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’