Norman Baker MP has called on the Premier League to redistribute more money to grassroots football and for ticket prices to be slashed in the wake of the record £5.14bn TV rights deal announced last week.
The Premier League puts £12m a year into its grassroots sports charity the Football Foundation – a figure that stood at £20m a year in 2000. If this figure was instead index-linked to increases in TV income, the investment would now stand at around £100m a year.
Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, ticket prices have increased by around 1,000%, with the average price of a season ticket now £508. Young people are being priced out of attending live football matches, as football fans in England are forced to pay nearly four times as much as supporters in Germany, where the average price of a season ticket in the Bundesliga is £138. German clubs voluntarily sacrifice extra ticket revenue in order to preserve the bonds with their community and continued growth of the game in their country.
By contrast many Premier League clubs are privately owned organisations with wealthy, overseas investors who have few ties to the local communities of their respective clubs. Many owners appear to view lifelong supporters of these clubs as mere consumers, who can safely be charged excessive ticket prices in order to fund high-salaried players, whilst refusing to even pay stadium matchday staff the living wage.
Lewes Lib Dem MP Norman Baker says: “I am a proud shareholder of my local team, Lewes FC, a club that has embraced the sustainability of fan ownership. I believe football clubs have a duty to serve their local communities, and an obligation to keep ticket prices affordable for their fans. The Premier League is now swimming in billions of pounds and yet so little of that is invested back into grassroots football, as players and agents continue to get richer. The salaries paid to Premier League footballers are frankly obscene.
"I want to see ticket prices cut, salaries reduced and greater investment in grassroots causes.”