General election 2019: What do the party manifestos say about football?
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 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.
"I would tell anyone if you want to learn more, come down here for that parade and you'll go away with a completely different opinion."
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 9, 2019
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:
“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.”
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.
Proud to announce today that if Labour win the upcoming General Election, we'll change the law to approve Safe Standing next season.
The Government aren't listening to fans. It's time to let clubs, supporters and local authorities take the lead.
— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) October 14, 2019
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.
“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.”
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.
— CCHQ Press (@CCHQPress) December 7, 2019
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.
“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.”
Safe standing could be introduced. Funding for grassroots from the National Lottery will not be cut.
“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.”
Tackle homophobia in sport.
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