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Football Grounds Improvement Trust

Volume 976: debated on Friday 21 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his further discussions concerning the future of the Football Grounds Improvement Trust following his statement to the House on 19 October.

I was very pleased to learn this week of a further important initiative being taken by the Pools Promoters Association (PPA) in the light of my announcement to which my hon. Friend refers.Indeed, I have made a statement to this effect in which I said that in order to provide for the benefit of football in the widest possible sense, a new trust, to be known simply as the Football Trust, is being established. Its terms of reference are being widely drawn, and it is intended that the new trust will address itself particularly to the problems of crowd behaviour, both inside and outside grounds, and to tackle as effectively and imaginatively as possible other social problems associated with the game.As for the existing Football Grounds Improvement Trust, the new trust will be funded by the PPA's spotting-the-ball competition. Together, the total amount to be made available to football in this way is likely to exceed £3·5 million per annum.The Football Grounds Improvement Trust will continue to concentrate on the implementation of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act, and on improving spectator comfort at League grounds. These voluntary arrangements remove the need for the Government to implement the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Gambling that there should be a statutory football board.I was delighted to learn that Lord Aberdare had accepted an invitation from the PPA to be the first chairman of the Football Trust. Sir Norman Chester will be deputy chairman, and other trustees will be nominated by the governing bodies of football in England and Scotland, by the PPA, by the local authority organisations, and by the Players' Association.I welcome the initiative of the PPA in setting up and funding this new Trust, which I hope will play an important part in tackling the wider social problems associated with football.