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New sports minister calls on Premier League to 'give much more' to grassroots

By Tom Walker    05 Jun 2015
Crouch said the Premier League needs to do more to improve grassroots facilities

The new sports minister, Tracey Crouch, has called on the English Premier League (EPL) to increase its investment in grassroots football.

Speaking at the Sports Summit in London on Thursday, Crouch said: “The EPL now generates an astonishing amount of money and I’d like to see the league contribute much more than it currently does towards grassroots football.”

She added that while the EPL has committed to investing £1bn outside the top flight of English football, only a part of the funds find their way to community football pitches and facilities.

“The amount of money trickling down from the last TV deal wasn’t enough.”

“That £1bn figure includes parachute payments to relegated clubs, so only around a third ends up in the grassroots. That is then further divided in various ways so by the time you get down to talking about all-weather pitches, it’s not much money at all.

“We lag behind many European countries when it comes to grassroots facilities and we need to do something about that.”

When asked for what she would deem a satisfactory level of investment, Crouch said she has yet to meet with EPL representatives but would look to do so “before the next deals are agreed on”.

Speaking to Sports Management, Crouch also backed the Football Association’s drive towards installing more artificial football pitches

across England.

“The advantages of using artificial surfaces are clear,” she said. “Games don’t get called off due to weather and when coupled with floodlighting, as all-weather pitches often are, they offer usage from morning to late in the evening throughout the year.”

Crouch made the comments after her first official speech to sports industry representatives at Thursday’s Sports Summit in London – an annual event organised by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

In her maiden speech, she described the role of sports minister as “her dream job”.

“Sport is my passion,” Crouch said. “I grew up with sports and carried it into adulthood. I've seen how sport can change lives - how it teaches life skills and develops well-rounded individuals."

She also outlined four priorities for her new role. “I want to make sure we fully recognise the importance of grassroots, drive for fairness in sport, safeguard all players and athletes and make sure we are able to continue Team GB's phenomenal success at major events.

“I’m not only focused on organised, competitive sport. I know that’s not for everyone. What matters to me is getting people active.”

• Crouch is a qualified football coach and has actively promoted equal opportunities in sport. She was first elected to parliament in 2010 and served as vice chair of the All Party Group for Women in Sport.

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