General election 2019: What do the party manifestos say about football?

Boris Johnson Jeremy Corbyn General election 2019

Thursday is the most exciting day of the year: the final round of games in the Europa League group stage!

But it’s also general election polling day, which takes the shine off a bit.

Obviously, there are big and worthy issues at stake. The health service, the environment, Brexit, the economy, etc etc.

Then there’s football, the most important subject there is (if importance is measured by the amount of time you spend thinking about it). Some people like to claim that football and politics shouldn’t mix, which is a bit like saying Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City should try pumping it up to the big man: it’s an opinion, but that’s the kindest thing we can say about it.

As Gary Neville (opens in new tab) and Graeme Souness have both shown in the past week with their on-air comments about racism and homophobia respectively, and as Raheem Sterling has been showing with a number of his interventions over the past year, separating football and politics can’t really be done. 

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To help you make an informed decision in the polling booth on Thursday, we’ve sifted through all of the manifestos of parties who already have MPs to discover what they have to say about the future of the beautiful game. 

We found specific mention of football in the manifestos of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, as well as a reference in Plaid Cymru’s that relates to football clubs – but if you think we’ve missed any, get in touch. For the ones that did include it, here’s what we’ve found:

Labour manifesto


What the manifesto says (opens in new tab):

“In football, the professional game has become divided between the extremes of the very rich and very poor, with clubs in Bury and Bolton facing collapse. A Labour government will examine the state of the game, its governance and regulation, its ownership rules and the support and funding of the clubs that are vital to local communities. We will review the ‘fit and proper person test’ for club owners and directors, and ensure that supporters’ trusts have a proper role so that the professional game is properly run for all its fans and all its clubs. 

“A Labour government will legislate for accredited football supporters’ trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and purchase shares when clubs change hands. We will regulate safe standing in stadiums and ensure that a proportion of the Premier League’s television rights income is spent on grassroots football facilities.”

Anything else?

Building on the manifesto commitment to legalise safe standing made, Labour also pledged (exclusively on FourFourTwo) before the campaign that the move would be made by the beginning of the 2020/21 season.

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In short: 

Supporters’ trusts will get two representatives on club boards, safe standing will be introduced, and more money from Premier League television rights will be ringfenced for grassroots.

NOW READWhen football cost Labour a general election

Tory manifesto


What the manifesto says (opens in new tab)

“We will establish a £150 million Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets that are under threat – local football clubs, but also pubs or post offices. We will set up a fan-led review of football governance, which will include consideration of the Owners and Directors Test, and will work with fans and clubs towards introducing safe standing.”

Anything else?

They recently pledged £550m towards creating 2,000 new astroturf pitches, repairing 20,000 grass pitches, and backing an England-led 2030 World Cup bid.

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In short: 

Government funding could be used by fans to help buy smaller football clubs. How clubs are run will be reviewed, and the introduction of safe standing is a possibility. 

Lib Dem manifesto

Liberal Democrats

What the manifesto says

“Move towards introducing ‘safe standing’ at football clubs, requiring the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to prepare guidance for implementing this change.”

“[We will] support anti-racism and anti-homophobia campaigns in sport.

[We will] protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery.”

In short:

Safe standing could be introduced. Funding for grassroots from the National Lottery will not be cut.

Plaid manifesto

Plaid Cymru

What the manifesto says:

“Promote LGBT participation in sport, as part of broader efforts towards healthier lifestyles, and work with clubs and organisations to reduce homophobic, transphobic and sexist behaviour.”

In short:

Tackle homophobia in sport.

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