One of the classic tropes of politics is politicians pretending to be football fans. The low point of this phenomenon came when David Cameron couldn’t remember whether he was a West Ham or Aston Villa fan – a mistake that no genuine fan could make, no matter the similarities of their kit.
One of the aspects of Jeremy Corbyn’s authenticity that appeals to sports fans is his genuine and decades-long love for his football team – Arsenal FC. He and Labour will endear themselves even further with a new, detailed announcement on their funding plans for grassroots football that shows a genuine understanding of the real-life issues faced by football fans and grassroots players:
Labour pledges more funding to grassroots football on FA Cup final day
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, will visit Hackney Marshes football pitches today to highlight Labour’s manifesto commitment to ensure 5 per cent of the Premier League’s domestic and international television rights’ income is diverted to the grassroots game. The pledge will help the next generation of players and coaches by drastically improving facilities and pitches.
Labour has also committed today to working with train operating companies, broadcasters and clubs to develop a new ‘Flexible Football Ticket‘ so that fans experience minimal disruption when games are switched. This will stop fans being left with worthless train tickets and having to fork out again for new tickets when games are re-arranged at short notice.
The visit is taking place on the same day as the FA Cup Final. The party’s manifesto also commits Labour to:
• Put fans at the heart of their clubs – by legislating for accredited supporters trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and to purchase shares when clubs change hands. We will also review fan participation in sports governance more widely.
• Fix the broken ticketing market – by enforcing anti-bot legislation and implementing the recommendations of the Waterson review to ensure fair opportunities for fans to buy tickets.
• Improve access provision for disabled sports fans – by ensuring that rapid improvements are made and by prioritising action to make clubs comply with obligations under the 2010 Equality Act.
• Ensure that investment and support is given to grassroots women’s football so as many women and girls as possible can benefit from participating in football
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, will say:
“The FA Cup final marks the greatest day of the football season. 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 per cent 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.”
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, will say:
“Football is our national game – it brings people together from all ages and all walks of life. We have one of the most commercially successful leagues in the world, but all too often pitches and grassroots community facilities are run down and in a state of disrepair.
“Without supporters, amateurs and young players, football would be barren. As broadcast revenues and the popularity of our leagues increase, so should the support that goes back into the grassroots game. We have to make sure we can develop future British playing and coaching talent, in order to make sure our leagues stay competitive for years to come.
If you have an interest in sport generally and in football in particular, then there’s really only one choice in this General Election – for this and a host of other reasons.
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