New FA investment in grassroots still leaves football short-changed David Conn
The Football Association happened on an unusually warm day in Lancashire for its announcement that it will invest £260m in the grassroots game over the next four years but the details, once they had been teased out, did not quite add up to an organisation glowing with warmth. The £260m is mostly not new money; the FA already spends £50m a year of its income – £200m over the last four years – on the “national game”, the millions who play football below the professional ranks and multibillion-pound phenomenon of the Premier League. So this is another £15m a year found for the whole of amateur, men’s, women’s and disability football, including improving dire facilities, coaching and refereeing initiatives, administration and development programmes at England’s 52 county football associations.
The FA’s new chief executive, Martin Glenn, appointed in March from a similar role at the snacks corporation United Biscuits, accepted that a large part of this extra money will come from a substantial redundancy programme, and it is expected to be announced next week that around a quarter of the FA’s 900 staff are to lose their jobs. It might grate on some of them that this announcement projecting a good news story has come first, with the fine, sun-blessed facilities of the Lancashire county FA, and enthusiastic local children, chosen as the backdrop.
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