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Grass-roots Sport

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 26 February 2015

The Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), who is responsible for sport, and I have regular discussions with the Premier League and the Football Association. Together we work in partnership to ensure that funding for grass-roots football remains strong.

I thank the Secretary of State for his answer, but does he recognise that there is a growing crisis in grass-roots football, in terms of facilities, pitch quality and fees, which local authorities have often been increasing because of local government cuts? Will he back Labour’s call for the Premier League to use some of its new windfall to meet its 5% commitment to fund grass-roots football?

I join the hon. Gentleman in his suggestion that there should be more investment in grass-roots football, and he will know that the Government allocated more money in the last autumn statement. Together with the Premier League and Football Association money, that is £100 million of new money going into grass-roots football over the next three years. On his point about the Premier League, I should say, first, that the Premier League already does a lot—I welcome that and we should all commend it. However, with the recent increase in its finances, we can all expect it to do more.

Moving the FIFA World cup in 2022 to the winter could have significant financial consequences for the Premier League and for all levels of football in England and Europe. Will the Secretary of State be raising this issue with FIFA? Will he be discussing it with other European Sports Ministers?

A few years ago when it was first announced that the 2022 World cup would be held in Qatar, my son Suli, who was 10 at the time, said to me, “How are they going to hold this competition in such blazing heat?” If my 10-year-old son knew that, I do not know why Sepp did not. We take a close interest in this, but ultimately the decision has to be made by the relevant football authorities.

Previous TV deals with the Premier League have not resulted in comparable increases in funding for the grass roots and football family. Does the Secretary of State accept that the only way of guaranteeing future funding is for this Parliament to legislate to ensure that 5% of Premier League revenue goes to the grass-roots and football family?

I do not accept that there is a need for legislation. What there is a need for is a continued and active dialogue between Government and the Premier League to make sure that its investment in grass-roots football continues. As I said, given the recent news that the Premier League had of a windfall, we should encourage it to do more.