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Volume 570: debated on Thursday 7 November 2013

5. When the Government plan to respond to the e-petition created by the hon. Member for Bolton North East on grass-roots football. (900967)

The delay in response to the hon. Gentleman’s query was unacceptable, as has been acknowledged. However, I can confirm that a response has now been published on the Government e-petitions site. Petitions that reach the 10,000 signature threshold should receive a response from the Government within 30 days.

I did indeed receive a response to my petition just after midnight on Tuesday morning, within hours of this oral question being published—two facts that I am sure are not remotely connected.

On a serious point, given the billions of pounds available from football on television, will the Government put pressure on the Football Association to spend more of that money on grass-roots football, especially for children, as opposed to even more outrageous wages for top professional footballers?

I am not sure that that is a question for a Deputy Leader of the House, but I will ensure that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is aware of the hon. Gentleman’s concern. I would certainly echo his suggestion, however, that we need strong investment in grass-roots football. He might be aware that the Premier League will be investing about £168 million in grass-roots football over the next three years, which is something that hon. Members on both sides of the House would want to encourage it to do.