Sports minister, Tracey Crouch, has said she is “genuinely appalled” by the proportion of the EPL’s TV income that is invested in grassroots football and will demand it contributes “much more” than it does currently.
In the wake of figures showing 15 out of 20 Premier League teams made a profit in 2014-15 and new TV deals expected to top £8bn from 2016-17, Crouch said she planned to put pressure on the Premier League to increase the £1bn it has promised to distribute outside the top flight.
“That billion includes parachute payments so we expect roughly around a third to go to the grassroots. That is divided in various ways so by the time you get down to talking about artificial pitches it’s not very much money at all. I want to see a lot more from Europe’s wealthiest league.”
Minister, who has been a coach of a girl’s youth football team for a decade, said she did not believe enough of the Premier League’s broadcasting riches filtered down to grassroots facilities. Her intervention reveals a marked difference in tone from her predecessor Helen Grant.
“They raise a phenomenal amount of money from TV rights and it was a phenomenal amount of money the clubs made in profit,” said Crouch. “It’s a very wealthy league. I would like to see much more of that money go down to the grassroots.”
The Premier League argues that its focus must remain on investing in the best players and facilities and claims it invests more in so-called “good causes” than any other football league.
“I don’t think enough of the money has gone into the grassroots from the last TV deal,” insisted Crouch, who met with the FA this week to discuss the Fifa crisis but has yet to meet with the Premier League.
“I think the fact we are still lagging behind other footballing nations in our facilities is appalling and I really want to make sure the Premier League make a decent contribution to improving that situation. I am genuinely rather appalled that they don’t.”
The Premier League has already raised £5.3bn from its domestic TV deals, an increase of 64% on the existing contracts, and the total could top £8.5bn once international TV deals are added by the end of the year.
“They need to put more into the sport itself than they do at the moment and I don’t think they do that.”
Crouch, who was speaking at a Sport and Reacreation Alliance summit, said she also planned to focus on reforming the FA. “There has been some reform of governance. There is more to be done and that is something we have already raised. We’ll certainly be looking at that,” she said.
Crouch sat on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, chaired by the new culture secretary, John Whittingdale, which conducted an in-depth review of football governance and recommended a range of steps to improve representation for fans and overhaul the FA Council. “We’re in this rather unique position where the chairman and a member of the select committee are now in a position to implement their recommendations,” she said. “Certainly, we wrote those reports 100% believing in the recommendations we made. We’ll be having those discussions.”