AN EXTRACT FROM: TAKING IT ON THE CHIN onsıde| ISSUE 39 43 afternoon after he had published his seminal report said: ‘That could well have made a big difference to my report.’ We lost the battle there and the unfortunate thing was that it has not stopped people from standing. Now, whenever anything happens down in one corner of the pitch, everybody still stands up. It is an issue that is now being discussed and I suppose eventually they may well see the benefit of having a part of the ground as a safe standing area. THE FOOTBALL FOUNDATION In early 1999, the Premier League agreed to pay a levy on satellite TV income to fund community sports. The money would be administrated by the new Football Foundation, but there was the question of who should chair it. My experience in sport, and as chairman of the Football Trust, made me in the eyes of many an obvious candidate, and I was appointed by the representatives of the governing bodies of football. The Foundation was duly launched in July 2000 on the lawns of 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair and myself, in the presence of the then England manager Kevin Keegan, Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore, and other eminent football personalities. The newly established Football Foundation immediately became the country’s largest sports charity, as it remains to this day. With a focus on addressing this country’s chronic shortage of grassroots football facilities, the Foundation awards tens of millions of pounds worth of grants on behalf of its core Funding Partners: the Premier League, The FA and the Government, via Sport England. This investment quickly began to translate on the ground in the shape of a whole new generation of changing pavilions, state-of-the-art all-weather playing surfaces and properly draining natural grass pitches being built in towns and cities across the country for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy playing football, and other sports, purely for the love of it. In 2003, my three years as chairman of the Football Foundation had lapsed, as is the norm for a government representative on such a body, so the board kindly made me its first president. In his welcoming letter, the chief executive, my old pal Peter Lee, wrote: ‘I look forward to my continuing association with El Presidente!’ When Peter stepped down in April 2006, the Foundation’s Trustees appointed Paul Thorogood to replace him. Paul brought a wealth of specialist experience in operational logistics, systems thinking and organisational performance and change management, which he employed extensively to help transform the Foundation from a charity whose good work people supported, to the highly advanced and very-well-respected organisation that it is today. Paul had no sooner got his feet under the desk before implementing a strategic review that penetrated every area of the operation; he transformed it from top to bottom and created a very strong business culture throughout the charity, which was focused on its strategic objectives. Since we launched it in 2000, the Foundation has delivered a staggering £1.4 billion worth of grassroots sports projects, developing more than 600 all-weather playing surfaces, 900 changing pavilions and 2,400 properly drained grass pitches. This is just a snapshot of a colourful and fascinating life. You can buy a copy of Taking It On The Chin from Biteback Publishing’s website www.bitebackpublishing.com/ books/taking-it-on-the-chin A unique, effective partnership between government and the top of the game – launching the Football Foundation from Number Ten Downing Street.