PM KICKS OFF £60 MILLION A YEAR BOOST FOR GRASS ROOTS FOOTBALL
Culture Secretary says new initiative will create top class facilities for park and school soccer across the country
Prime Minister Tony Blair and England coach Kevin Keegan today joined a team of junior footballers from East London in the garden of No 10 Downing Street, to launch the Football Foundation, a new initiative, worth £60 million a year from 2001, which will give tens of thousands of footballers from 4 to 84 the chance to play on better pitches with better changing rooms and better equipment.
The Foundation will receive its funding from the broadcasting rights income of the Premier League and from the Football Association, the Government and Sport England. It will devote three quarters of its cash to improving playing surfaces, indoor facilities and for buying equipment for the 40,000 grass roots football clubs around the country.
Speaking in advance of the Foundation's launch at 10 Downing Street, Culture Secretary Chris Smith said:
"The Foundation is a huge investment by both Government and the Premier League and one which will be welcomed in changing rooms across the country.
"The dominant image of football is that of a wealthy and healthy game played by superstars in massive state of the art stadiums, but those who enjoy the game in parks on a Sunday afternoon know that the facilities they are faced with every week are often basic at best.
"The Foundation is one of the great achievements of the Football Task Force and an excellent example of progressive governing bodies working with Government for the good of the sport's future. I hope other sports will take note and ask themselves whether they can learn any lessons from it."
The Foundation is run by a board of six members. The Government's representative, Tom Pendry MP, the former Chairman of the Football Trust, has been appointed as the Foundation's Chairman by the Board. Sport England, who will provide some Lottery funding for the Foundation, is represented by its chairman Trevor Brooking. The Football Association and the FA Premier League have two representatives each. They are Geoff Thompson (FA Chairman), Adam Crozier (FA Chief Executive), Dave Richards (FAPL Chairman) and Richard Scudamore (FAPL Chief Executive).
Speaking before the launch, Sports Minister Kate Hoey said:
"The Football Foundation is good news for schools. If football is to thrive and prosper as a sport, it must build solid links between schools and local clubs. The Foundation will make this possible for teams across the country."
Schools Minister Jacqui Smith said:
"Football has much to offer young people and today's announcement is good news for children who want to play the game. Our 'Playing for Success' initiative, based in 40 Premier and Football League clubs and soon being extended into other sports, makes real links between the world of football and the classroom. This new funding from the Football Foundation is an excellent way of extending this influence into many more schools."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1 The Football Trust's work on safety work at football grounds will be done by the Foundation's Safety and Improvement Panel, which has been allocated around 12.5% of Foundation income.
2 The launch took place in the garden of No 10 Downing Street at 9am today. In attendance were children from Cann Hall Primary School, Leytonstone, as well as Trevor Brooking, Chair of Sport England, Garth Crooks, Chair of Grassroots Advisory Group and former Tottenham, Manchester United and England footballer and Tom Pendry MP, Chairman of the Football Foundation.