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Tories offer £300m for spectator sport but only a fraction for grassroots

Budget offers £25m for local football facilities, but funding for other community sports unclear

THE government confirmed its new £300 million recovery package for major spectator sports in England today, but set aside only £25m for grassroots facilities — funds which did not appear to extend beyond football.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget states that the recovery package, likely to be paid out as a mix of loans and grants, is designed to help “major spectator sports in England, supporting clubs and governing bodies.”

Under the section of the Budget titled Celebrating the United Kingdom – measures meant to reflect “the shared values, culture and institutions that make up the union” – there is listed “an investment of £25m in UK grassroots community sports facilities, supporting the future of grassroots football.” 

Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted that the funding was “great news for football,” and that the £25m would “build 700 football pitches” to support a bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The Budget does not directly address grassroots funding beyond football, however, even though the larger recovery fund is aimed at “spectator sports such as cricket, tennis and horse racing.”

The Morning Star also asked the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) to provide costing details behind the promise of 700 new pitches.

According to the latest available cost estimates from Sport England for the development of good-quality community sports facilities, a full-sized senior natural-turf football pitch is expected to cost £100,000 — adding up to only 250 new pitches via the £25m funding.

For the third-generation (3G) artificial-turf pitches more common in urban areas, its estimates suggest that between £400,000 and £1.05m is required to build a new pitch, including the cost of fencing and lighting, which could account only for between about 62 and 24 pitches.

The DCMS said the Treasury was likely to lay out the details in due course.

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