‘Forget the new Ferrari Wayne!’ Grassroots football needs more cash from Premier League and its stars

The Premier League must use its new £5.1bn television rights deal to boost grassroots participation throughout the UK, according to a south London company. is a website dedicated to helping budding sportsmen and women find and book venues and activities to take part in a number of sports – from football through to croquet and even dodgeball.

Of all those sports, football is the richest and with the Premier League recently announcing its record television rights deal, OpenPlay co-founder Sam Parton says it is imperative that some of that income filters down to grassroots.

“The Premier League outlined that it will build 152 new 3G football pitches across the country and invest £168 million in facilities and good causes,” he said.

“That investment is certainly welcoming, the more 3G pitches the better, particularly in schools and parks.

“However, a lot more are needed to prevent the massive decline in football participation.”

Many argue that opportunities for home grown players at Premier League clubs are restricted because their wealth allows them to attract the best players from around the world.

But Mr Parton believes there would be no need to look abroad if more money was spent nurturing this country’s talent at grassroots level.

“The sad reality is that only around 5% of the Premier League’s income filters down to grassroots sport, so basically peanuts,” he said.

“The vast majority goes on player wages and agents fees who are the real winners of this.

“How about introducing a tiny levy on all player transfers to help grassroots of say 0.5%? Is that too much to ask?

“Just one week of Wayne Rooney’s wages could fund three new floodlit football pitches in one of the poorest parts of London.

“Surely something can be done to address this mismatch? Forget the new Ferrari Wayne!”

Mr Parton also insists the real stars behind the grassroots game are the volunteers and more needs to be done to help them too.

“Grassroots football is totally reliant on volunteers to manage teams, sift through the administration, organise coaching sessions and do everything else in between,” he added.

“They are the heroes and need to be encouraged.

“It is all very well outlining funding for them, but the FA in particular needs to address the huge paper burden placed on league administrators and team managers as well as the rising costs of pitch hire and transport.

“Overall the extra cash from the Premier League is a welcome addition to grassroots football, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the real beneficiaries are the Premier League players and their agents.”

Feature image courtesy of, with thanks

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