Funding for grassroots football remains a fiercely contested and highly emotive subject for many football fans.
In the age of austerity and cuts that we are currently experience under the current government it is sadly inevitable that funding would be cut to to the game we love.
The real bone of contention for many comes when large sums of money are seen to be spent on other similar causes in much larger amounts.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, last month outlined his spending review which contained a severe cut in the amount of funds available for grassroots football.
With £215 million already cut from annual spending on grassroots sport since 2011, David Cameron’s 2011 FA Cup final programme notes seem more detached from reality by the year.
He said; “From local parks and schools to clubs across the land, the dream of the Cup final has helped inspire a fantastic legacy of grassroots football in this country. Through football we can re-engage young people who are going through hard times. It offers them the hope, and the confidence, they need.”
This is a statement that those who follow, participate and support grassroots football know to be true.
Grassroots football is the bedrock of the national game, and Jamie Vardy’s terrific run of form is a timely reminder to the big spending premier league sides that they could do worse than turn their scouting glare towards the lower leagues.
It is hard to single out just grassroots football when a whole host of other frontline services will also have their budgets squeezed. But it is worth taking into account that the vast majority of grassroots funding is drawn from local authorities.
The local authorities have seen their budgets slashed by up to 30% as a result of the spending review and as such football at the lowest level will be disadvantaged.
BBC’s Dan Roan has outlined the way in which local authority cuts will impact on grassroots sport here.
There is also ill feeling within the lower league game due to Mr Osborne’s recent deal with China to develop their grassroots game with the help of £3 million of funding.
George Osborne said:”Grassroots football plays an instrumental role in UK like, and it is brilliant to be able to spread that to China.”
This will leave many in the game in the UK scratching their head as to why they are seeing their funding decrease while China receives new investment.
Over the last few years, grassroots sport has seen significant cuts to it’s funding. Hopefully peoples love for the game and desire to play will not overcome any financial shortfalls.
But the Premier League, one of the UK’s most successful and profitable exports, relies on the grassroots game as much as the reverse. If the cuts continue we may see the game we love disappearing from local parks and fields across the country.