Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 39

Memorandum submitted by The Football Trust

INTRODUCTION

  1.  Over the past ten years, this country has undergone a stadium revolution which has transformed our national game. England has some of the finest football grounds in Europe if not the World.

  2.  Supporters can now enjoy safe and comfortable facilities which is reflected in the huge increase in attendances recorded throughout the professional game. The Football Trust has played a huge part in this transformation and as Euro '96 proved this country now has the grounds fit and ready to host International Sporting Events.

  3.  The Football Trust has been the vehicle for grant aiding football at every level throughout the UK since it was set up by the Labour Government in 1975, with the assistance of the pools companies and the Football League. Its original primary purpose (when it was known as the Football Grounds Improvement Trust) was to assist with the costs of implementing the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975.

  4.  In 1979, following discussions with Government after the publication of the final report from the Royal Commission on Gambling, the Trust's remit was extended, so that whilst spectator safety at professional football grounds remained a priority, it expanded its work into the game at community and grassroots levels, and was asked to pay particular attention to tackling football's social problems, especially crowd violence and hooliganism.

  5.  The Trust's record of success was such that in 1990, following the tragic events of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, the Trust was charged by Government with responsibility for helping professional clubs to meet the cost of implementing the recommendations of the Taylor Report.

  6.  Under the Chairmanship of Tom Pendry MP, it brings all of football's major players together round one table. It is the established vehicle for grant aiding football with funding from the FA Premier League, the Football Association, the English Sports Council, the Football League and the Professional Footballers Association flowing through the Trust for the benefit of our national game.

  7.  In Scotland the Trust works in partnership with SFA and the Scottish Sports Council for the benefit of Scottish football and it is hoped, with Government support, the Trust will make similar arrangements in Wales and Northern Ireland.

THE TRUST'S MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO FOOTBALL

  8.  British football grounds have been transformed, providing the highest standard of safety and comfort for supporters. The Trust has played a key role in this transformation.

  9.  Since 1990, the Trust has distributed over £160 million to clubs in the FA Premier League, the Football League and the Scottish Football League, enabling Taylor related projects costing over £500 million to proceed.

  10.  England has successfully hosted a major international football championship for the first time in 30 years. The venues chosen for Euro '96 were excellent examples of the tremendous progress which has been made as a result of Taylor. Progress which has seen new grounds at Chester, Millwall, Northampton, Middlesborough, Huddersfield, Sunderland, Bolton, Derby, Reading and Stoke.

  11.  Scotland has seen new grounds at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Livingston, Clyde and Stirling Albion, Aidrieonians, East Fife and Hamilton Academicals are proceeding with their plans for relocation.

  12.  The Trust has made a major contribution to the national stadium in each of the Home counties. Wembley, Hampden Park, Windsor Park and the new Millennium Stadium of Wales have all benefited from our funding.

  13.  In addition, it has provided support for essential safety and improvement work at grounds at every level, from the top of the game to the grass roots throughout the United Kingdom. Schemes providing strip and equipment for school boy and school girl teams, women's football, pitches and dressing rooms for local clubs along with contributions to many football related charitable organisations.

  14.  The Football in the Community Programme owes its existence to the Trust and our investment of some £5.5 million. Substantial investment has been made in training facilities and youth development.

  15.  This year alone the Trust made over 120 grant offers. This funding went to a wide range of initiatives and facilities such as the Kick Racism out of Football campaign, the Learning through football initiative, Women's football and a new stand at Port Vale.

THE WORLD CUP 2006 BID

  16.  Thanks to the Trust's investment this country can now boast the finest football grounds in the World. Grounds to grace the 2006 World Cup.

  17.  The quality of England's 2006 World Cup bid was powerfully demonstrated last week when it was announced that 16 stadiums have been placed on the initial Category A list as all meeting FIFA's ground grading requirements.

  18.  The Trust has made a major contribution to each of those stadiums as well as those which are currently on the Category B list:
ClubTrust Grants
GRADE A STADIA Aston Villa3,476,361
Blackburn Rovers3,453,437
Chelsea4,402,949
Coventry City3,465,131
Derby County4,641,487
Everton2,465,325
Leeds Utd2,583,373
Leicester City2,712,447
Liverpool3,362,691
Man Utd3,692,619
Middlesbrough4,210,311
Newcastle3,418,275
Sheffield Wednesday4,299,086
Sunderland4,454,354
GRADE B STADIA Arsenal3,072,167
Bristol City2,328,531
Nottingham Forest2,267,384
Tottenham Hotspur3,519,216
West Ham4,068,663
Wembley2,057,253

  19.  In addition, since 1990 over 150 new and refurbished stands, 55 new community and family facilities (22 of which include facilities for people with disabilities) 22 stadium control rooms, and 18 first aid rooms have been built. 40 clubs have new floodlighting and nearly 100 clubs have new PA and emergency communication systems.

  20.  The introduction of CCTV surveillance equipment throughout football has proved the single most important measure in the campaign against football hooliganism and this has largely been paid for by the Trust.

  21.  In addition, the Trust has made a major contribution towards the dramatic improvement in facilities for spectators with disabilities. In assessing major ground redevelopment projects for grant aid special attention is paid to the extent and quality of the provision of facilities for disabled. Grant aid is available for: viewing platforms, improved access, toilets, match commentary systems, induction loop, designated car parking and low level refreshment serveries.

  22.  The Trust has also provided funding to improve transport to and from games. Priority is given to those schemes which bring community advantages in addition to benefits for football supporters.

THE TRUST'S FUNDING AND FUTURE PRIORITIES

  23.  In 1990, in addition to the Trust's traditional source of income from the pools companies' Spotting-the-Ball (later Littlewoods' Spot the Ball) the Trust received the proceeds of a reduction in pool betting duty to fund the implementation of Taylor.

  24.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer reduced pool betting from 26.5 per cent to 17.5 per cent in this year's budget to assist the pools companies. As evidence of the Government's commitment to the Trust, part of the agreement with the pools companies was that the proceeds of 3 per cent of this reduction would flow to the Trust.

  25.  With Government support and the continued commitment of our funding partners—The FA Premier League, The Football Association, Sport England, The Football League and The PFA—the Trust can tackle new investment priorities and broaden the Trust's remit, creating a long-term partnership and strategy for our national game.

  26.  The Trust can tackle new areas such as player development and education and to ensure greater investment in the grass roots, including community based facilities, schools, building links between clubs and communities, supporting inner city schemes, encouraging the development of education centres at football and support for park teams. The Trust can play a significant role in countering social exclusion.

WHAT THE TRUST CAN DELIVER FOR FUTURE SPORTING EVENTS

  27.  The Trust is unique. No other footballing nation has a body like the Trust which has helped to revolutionise the spectating of football matches, providing safe and comfortable facilities for supporters and vital funding at every level of football.

  28.  This is a major selling point when bidding for international events and one which should be promoted at every opportunity.

  29.  With Government backing we are ideally placed to attract funding from the top of the game and invest it throughout football. The Trust is accepted as the grant aid vehicle for the wider game and has never been more needed. The more equitable distribution of football's new found wealth is a key issue. Highlighting the strength of our national game from top to bottom—with 92 full-time professional clubs—is something which should be promoted.

  30.  The extension of the Trust's present Reduction in Pool Betting Duty (RPBD) income will hopefully spring funding from the football authorities, notably the Premier League, enabling the Trust to return to being a major player in developing the grass roots and to continue providing essential support to the Football League, Conference and National League System for safety and improvement work.

  31.  Football impacts on Government policies bringing huge benefits to the country and the community. Thanks to the contribution of the Trust, this country could play host to the world's biggest international sporting event delivering enormous benefits to the economy.

  32.  The Trust has an important role to play, it has made a valuable contribution to the transformation of our national game. It has demonstrated its effectiveness over 23 years through working in partnership with Government, the football authorities and the various funding bodies in sport to provide some of the best football grounds in the world.

  33.  The Trust is well fitted to build on these established partnerships in sport to help deliver future sporting events to this country. It is a unique organisation which should be promoted on the international stage.

  34.  Its work has already been expanded to other sports through the establishment of the Sports Grounds Initiative (SGI) in May 1995, which the Trust administers. The role of the SGI is to provide financial support for ground redevelopment work to improve standards of spectator safety and comfort in county cricket, rugby league, and rugby union.

  35.  It is vital we have an organisation capable of delivering a healthy, thriving sporting infrastructure and culture at every level to underpin a successful bid to stage a major sporting event in this country.

  36.  The success of the campaign to bring the World Cup to England in 2006 will result in even greater interest in football and place more demands on the game. The Trust will have a central part to play in meeting those demands and is ready and able to help play its vital part in securing other major events to these shores.

March 1999


 
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Prepared 19 May 1999