Jeremy Corbyn wants to divert football's TV money to grassroots

He said that football is "a game for the many"

BY Newstalk 15:40 Saturday 27 May 2017, 15:40 27 May 2017

Image: John Stillwell / PA Wire/PA Images

Jeremy Corbyn - left-winger and lifelong red - will warm up for supporting Arsenal against Chelsea in the FA Cup final by demanding more TV money for grassroots football.

The Labour leader over in the UK will kick off Cup final day by highlighting a party manifesto commitment to ensure 5% of the Premier League's TV income goes to the grassroots game.

He is teaming up with young players at Hackney Marshes in east London, said to be the spiritual home of Sunday league football, with 88 full-size pitches and more than 100 matches played every Sunday.

Like the General Election, this year's Cup final is between the reds and the blues: the reds of Mr Corbyn's beloved Arsenal and the blues of Premier League champions Chelsea.

"The FA Cup final marks the greatest day of the football season," said Mr Corbyn.

"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% 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."

Labour claims the extra TV cash would help the next generation of players and coaches lift the FA Cup or win the Premier League by drastically improving facilities and pitches.

The party also says in government it would work with train operating companies, broadcasters and clubs and develop a "Flexible Football Ticket" so that fans suffer less disruption when games are switched.

This would stop fans being left with worthless train tickets and having to buy new tickets when games are re-arranged at short notice, Labour claims. The party also says it would give ticket touts a red card.

But the Tories claim the Labour leader has scored an own goal. 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 £100m 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."

A Premier League spokesman said: "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 5% of the League's turnover each season."

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