Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet FA

Driving to the station this morning, I could hardly believe my ears. Did you know that the taxpayer is forking out £40 million a year to football? Me neither. It's channelled through the FA and the Football Foundation to pay for initiatives in grassroots football. The government is threatening the withhold it unless the three football organisations (FA, Football League and the Premier League) overcome their mutual hostility and start to work together.

I question why the taxpayer is providing any money in the first place. Why not instead impose a levy of £2 million a year on any club in the Premier League. That's the equivalent of the annual wages of one Premier League player.

So, another £40 million off public borrowing. Maybe a pinprick, but you know what they say about a lot of little pinpricks...


I Hate the F.A. said...

I've known about (and been disgusted by)this squandering of public money for ages.

Thing is though Iain, the F.A. and the clubs are too mean to spend money developing youth football in this country, and, why should anyone have to bother putting a levy on any club? Can't they figure out that it's in their own interest to help develop young talent? Apparently not. Much better to give a bloated salary to the current players rather than investing in the future.

The fault ultimately has to lie with the fans who follow football clubs blindly (West Ham till I die?)and aren't prepared to tell them that it's not all about getting to the top of their division. Fat chance of football developing a conservative attitude at any time in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Look after the 'pennies' .... it's beginning to look much easier to cut Government spending.

Anonymous said...

I heard the very same report and like you could not believe my ears!

Charlie said...

Looking at it from the FA's side, they would probably be wise to distance themselves from this funding.

It is, as the minister points out, a lever for political interference with the workings of the FA, and FIFA takes a dim view of government interference in its members.

It would probably be in everyones interests if this funding arrangement ended.

Mick Anderson said...

Surely with your suggested levy, that's £80M less public borrowing.

Are you sure West Ham can afford it?

Anonymous said...

The football foundation provides much needed improvements to grassroots sporting facilities in local communities often enabling even greater local authority investment to improve the state of existing ptiches and pavilions or to create new ones where demand is high but access to sport is low. This has recently happened in a park near me and very welcome it was too. Football may be a rich sport at its upper end but grassroots clubs still struggle and this, along with schools, is the entry point to the sport for the vast majority. Grassroots sports clubs, of any kind, are also a vital element in any sort of civic culture and probably more important to community than the local branches of the three main political parties. They will nearly all be run by people who give up a great deal of their time for coaching or administration as volunteers, in it only for the love of their sport. What public money that reaches them through the football foundation is well spent, particularly in the light of the debate about childhood obesity and declining adult participation in sport.

Andy said...

"Maybe a pinprick, but you know what they say about a lot of little pinpricks..."

Yes, they form a Cabinet!!

Pam Nash said...

To raise this money through the clubs may be enough to finish the samller clubs off. Why not just levy a 5% charge on players earning more than £10K per week? That would raise way more than £40 million and, well, the little loves would hardly go hungry, would they?

True Belle said...

Grass roots football in Africa is nearer the truth!

tory boys never grow up said...

Even better why not tax Murdoch's companies properly - since Sky is the main source fro most of the Premier League money and Murdoch's companies are notorious for their low effective tax rates. It would raise a lot more than £40m!

Andy said...

"Why not instead impose a levy of £2 million a year on any club in the Premier League."

WHAT???!!! Surely that's a tax on wealth creation and a burden on business. Manchester United will simply relocate to the far east!

Robert Eve said...


Football is such an awful 'sport'.

Anonymous said...

And where is the £40 million for investment in sports and exercise of types broadly attractive to girls?

Anonymous said...

The question should be of all processes or spending - is this a core government priority?

If not then it should be scrapped.

The National Lottery should pay for grass roots sport along with the FA and all the other fat cat sporting organisations.

It really isn't rocket science.

Alex said...

No idea why they are doing this (except that it keeps a lot of clubs running in towns and cities, not that they necessarily vote Labour, but it gives the local Labour MP somewhere to go on a Saturday afternoon) but in view of the tax receipts from VAT on ticket sales and TV subscriptions and taxes on players wages, the government/ tax payer does very well out of football.

In fact it probably the government who makes the most out of the Premier League.

Cynic said...

Whatever happened to all those reports by Lord Stevens et al into corruption in the game. It all went awfully quiet.

Why are we subsidising this?

How many Ministers and officials have had 'free' tickets and hospitality?

Cynic said...

"The National Lottery should pay for grass roots sport "

... are you mad man??? We have far better things to waste it on

Pete Chown said...

I certainly agree that this funding should be scrapped, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the Olympics.

The Olympics should be funded by ticket sales and the TV rights. People who want to watch sport should pay for it, the same as with any other hobby. It's bizarre that people with certain favoured hobbies (watching sport, the arts) are subsidised by people who prefer doing different things with their spare time.

One of my spare time activities is running. Obviously I have to buy my own running kit and shoes; I certainly wouldn't expect these to be provided by the taxpayer! If I wanted to watch running, though, I would benefit from the billions of pounds which taxpayers have been forced to spend on the Olympics. So watching running is good and deserving of public subsidy. Running yourself is not. New Labour Land is a strange place.

Enic said...

Interesting point Ian. Which other charitable foundations do you think Government should cut funding too?

@ Andy
Andy said...
"Maybe a pinprick, but you know what they say about a lot of little pinpricks..."

Yes, they form a Cabinet!!

Damnit, I was going to say the same about a Shadow Cabinet, you got their first.

And where is the £40 million for investment in sports and exercise of types broadly attractive to girls?

I think part of the point of the Football Foundation is to promote football with girls, and they're quite successful at it too.

Paddy Briggs said...


Thye taxpayer also pays millions to English cricket. It goes via the Sports Council to the ECB. The ECB then diverts the money to the Counties who spend much of it paying for mercenary players from overseas who are not qualified for England. So taxpayer money is being used to pay for something that can in no way be argued benefits England cricket. You couldn't make it up!

Anonymous said...

An annual levy on Premiership clubs is surely a tax, Iain?

Premiership clubs already pay tax, and their players pay substantial income tax. Perhaps they should pay more - but why should they pay any more than any other business of equivalent size?

But let's be totally clear about the real choice here. The schemes paid for by the £40 million either get paid through the tax system (or a mandatory scheme which is essentially a tax) or they don't happen. The question then is only which particular taxpayers pay for it.

You are falling into the politician's trap of pretending that there is a way of having something that there is no incentive for the market to provide but which may (or may not) be beneficial to have, without us paying for it. You should either say scrap the scheme or explain why businesses should pay more tax.

Frugal Dougal said...

I agree with your suggestion, and would add that we need talent scouts to go round the back streets again picking up wee hard nuts good at kicking a ball, giving our own people the chance to get off the streets again, not doing that duty for other countries.

neil craig said...

And how much do we pay for opera? & it was £70 million for the firsat of 2 Titian paintings.

Not saying this is right but I would rather we were willing to stump up £50 million for a suborbital craft or for a cargo rated electro-gun space launcher. I also think the long term benefits would be infinitely more.

Anonymous said...

And wasn't there an item of £250M that was paid to FA re Wembley Stadium in the expectation that it would also be used for athletics?
Was that repaid when the athletics proposal was dropped? I never heard that it had been.

Anonymous said...

When the Conservatives get elected, can I sort out government spending for you ? No need to give me a salary. Just a red pen and 0.01 % of what I save.

Anonymous said...

Premier league and other clubs have their own academies and offer the chance for young children to take part in coaching sessions where the talented players are identified and recruited.

The Football foundation puts money into grassroots schemes in deprived areas, not into the pockets of the Professional clubs with deep pockets.

The professional clubs already make a big contribution to the Treasury through VAT and paye and NI payments. You are in danger of making the the same mistake of shooting the goose that lays the golden egg.

There is evidence that the 50% tax rate is already acting as a disincentive for overseas players to come to England. Why should professional clubs (that are already active in their local communities) be saddled with a tax burden to finance projects in deprived areas?

subrosa said...

Is this money only to the English FA?

Auch Iain, I do wish you'd remember that you're read by other countries. :)

Anonymous said...

If the English football team was run the way British politics is............

Dear English FA

As representatives of the Scottish FA we would like to inform you that we wish to change the way the English football team is managed to bring it more in line with the way our government has been run in the last few years.

This will involve the following:

1. The Manger of the Scottish football team is allowed to be involved with the running of the English team. However, the manager of the English team should have no say whatsoever in the running of the Scottish team. This shall be known as the West Lothian Athletic question.

2. A sizable proportion of any money the English FA raises from, say sponsorship or crowd takings, shall be given to the Scottish FA, regardless as to whether you need it or not. This does not apply the other way round. This is known as the Barnett formation.

3. The nationality of the English manager should be brought in line with the nationality of the leaders of the major political parties. ie Scottish. Therefore, we insist that Graham Souness be appointed to be manager of the English team with immediate effect.

4. You are not to call yourself England any longer. You will now be known as the British Regions. We, on the other hand, are still to be known as Scotland, "a proud and noble nation".

5. From this moment on, the English FA will cease to exist. However, the Scottish FA will be allowed to continue to work independently.

A failure to follow these rules will see you branded as arrogant, selfish and unfair.

I'm sure you will find this to you satisfaction. After all, you seem to be happy with this state of affairs with our political system. So why not your football team?

Yours sincerely

Mr G McBrown and Mr A Darling, SFA, McDowning St, McBritain.

PS Good luck with the world cup

PPS We were joking with PS.

True Belle said...

Football- who else in the country gets paid obscene amounts of money for an 1 1/2hrs work once a week?

Who else gets paid huge amounts just to kick and spit and trip fellow players up?

What type of world do these people inhabit and who is foolish enough to subscribe to it?
Placebos for the unruly masses, that is what football is. Bah

Nick said...

Not sure what they say about lots of pinpricks - but I do know what they say about lots of pricks - that they're going to lose the next election!

strapworld said...

Why not consider a 'Transfer Tax'whereby the club pays the Football Association 20% of the transfer fee they receive! and the buying club or agent pays an equal amount. This would ensure that money does go to the grassroots and not all into Directors/Agents pockets.

It is wrong that the taxpayer pays anything. But there again we pay the unions WHY? and so many other organisations!

Perhaps we should start an organisation. If our government cannot help us the EU can.

If you want some fun, thanks to Old Holborn visit

and try to find the most ridiculous organisation the EU have given money to!

Sir Edward Heath said...

"Football - who else in the country gets paid obscene amounts of money for an 1 1/2hrs work once a week?" True Belle.

All those taxpayer funded banking executives. Hee! Hee! Hee!

"I think part of the point of The Football Foundation is to promote football with girls, and they're quite successful at it too." Enic.

I quite like the idea of football with girls myself - particularly in my Chelsea strip. I look lovely in it. Hmmm. I had better not go there this evening. Hee! Hee! Hee!

Giving this money away for future career development is another own goal for Labour. Interestingly there is a Labour Lord at the FA. I must point out here that this money was not given for his future career development. His being there is purely a coincidence. Yet, I've often wondered, when beside the Lord at matches, how he rates the FA's expenses culture to the Lords - and does he claim both?

Anonymous said...

Iain, sad to see you joining into the "tax it" bandwagon, I suppose the next step will be to tax the richer clubs "a little more" because they can afford to pay?.

Anyway I think you'll find that football clubs already pay more than their share in various taxes and VAT, and many of them do far more in the community than ever gets publicised.

Chris A said...

Iain I'm incensed and was when the award was announced. It is more for example than was provided for rowing - a sport we're actually successful at rather than football. Compared to the wage bill all premiership clubs wouldn't even bother to pick up £2 if they dropped it. It's a scandal that they aren't doing more to promote grass roots sport

Anonymous said...

Do we impose a special running tax on Paula Radcliffe to buy trainers for inner city kids to encourage them to run? A special food tax on restaurants in order to pay for free school meals?

No, because it's bloody stupid, as is the idea of a special tax for football clubs to pay for youth football. Either youth football is something the taxpayer should support (because it provides widespread health and social benefits or whatever) or it isn't (because it only really benefits a few sporty kids). If it is, it should be funded from general taxation (as should every other government program), and if it isn't, the government shouldn't be involved.

Nich Starling said...

Silly idea Iain. The government pay this money to support things that the premier League will not pay for and jas no legal requirement to pay for like Womens Football, training referees for Sunday morning games, coaching under 7s, etc, etc.

If a levy was put on premier league clubs fans would just be forced to pay more and there would be no guarantee that any of those groups currently supported would get any money. Also, the figure used this morning was £20-25 million.