Politics

General election 2019: Tories pledge £550m for grassroots football

Boris Johnson in goalImage copyright PA Media

The Conservatives are pledging to invest £550m in grassroots football as part of plans to back a UK and Ireland bid to host the 2030 World Cup if they form the next government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the investment would “transform lives with a legacy to match the 2012 Olympics”.

It would boost existing plans for amateur football in England.

But Labour said the funding would not make up for “years of brutal cuts” to sporting facilities.

The Football Foundation partnership between government, the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League has existed since 2000. It is promising to improve 20,000 grass pitches in England or build new Astroturf versions.

The new Tory pledge would see the government’s current grassroots football funding commitment to the project rise from £180m to £730m over the next 10 years.

Speaking after a short kickabout with children in Cheadle, he said he wanted to “bring football home”.

It is unclear where the additional government cash would come from, but private partners are expected to fund the remainder of the investment, which would now amount to £2bn in total.

The FA has said that only one-in-three English community pitches are of adequate quality, with one-in-six amateur matches called off due to poor pitch conditions.

The Conservatives said every funding bid would be assessed against several factors, including whether it provides equal playing opportunities for females.

The party’s manifesto also includes a policy of ensuring all major new sports facilities cater for a range of different activities.

Labour had previously voiced its support for a 2030 World Cup bid.

Shadow culture secretary, Tom Watson, said: “This Tory pledge won’t undo the years of damage done to grassroots sports facilities by a decade of austerity.

“A last-minute election pledge can’t make up for years of brutal cuts.”

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have announced a policy of re-introducing safe-standing at top-flight football stadia.

The party says the practice works safely in Europe and will lead to more choice, better atmosphere and cheaper tickets for fans.

Standing in English football’s top two tiers is illegal after recommendations made following the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 96 fans.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50695211

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