Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Non League Football and the need to upgrade grass roots football facilities

On the 4th of September the House of Commons discussed the future of non-league football - an issue close to my heart, and something I have always taken part in myself.

The debate covered issues ranging from concerns around the ownership and internal governance of teams, the transparency of both teams and the Football Association and whether non-league games should be VAT exempt as they are in the Netherlands.

I raised what I consider to be the most important matter in the sustainability of non-league football at a grass-roots level, and that is the funding of facilities and related falling participation. These issues are incredibly closely related in places like Hyndburn - for instance, Great Harwood FC would most likely still exist if there had been the kinds of excellent facilities in the area that ensure generation after generation of participation in the grassroots game. Passion for the game is alive and well, but there is still a gap in terms of facilities.

Following the debate the FA wrote to each of the MPs who took part in the debate. The letter stated: "Graham Jones mentioned the need to look at how facilities for grassroots football at a basic level is funded. He will be glad to know that the Chairman's FA Commission's next report - due out in mid-October - will provide a full examination of our grassroots facilities and how we intend to reinvent the investment model".

I await the release of the report in October, and will be looking closely to ensure the best interests of grassroots football are being represented by the FA.