It was miserable and freezing on Sunday at Camp Hill in Merseyside as 300 young players and families met at Woolton FC in a protest at rising prices to hire football pitches for grassroot teams., and cancelled matches for the day.
No kid was born in a Premier League Academy. "They all start in grassroots football, and we need to protect it". So said Kevin Duffy of the Sklelmersdale and Ormskirk League.
They want the Premier League to give 7.5% of its broadcasting income, currently a record £5.5 billion for the 2013-16 period, to the grassroots game.. It is now less than 1%, with the Football Association and government cutting contributions to £12 million and £20 million a year,
Local councils, strapped for money in a tight economy, are increasing pitch fees by more than 200% in some cases. Sefton Council has increased the cost of hiring pitches to the local Bootle, Litherland and Netherton Junior Football League from £2,015 last year to £5,320 this year. Walsall in the West Midlands, have just increased pitch fees by 300%.
Kenny Saunders, who volunteers his time all year is the campaign founder of SAVE GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL. They want to get a debate in Parliament via an e-petition on direct.gov.org. Similar protests at Hackney Marshes fields in London, and in Manchester, Newcastle and elsewhere.
" Matches are being called off week-in,week-out from December to February because of poor facilities and waterlogged pitches", said Saunders.
Unlike superb facilities in USA, Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and elsewhere the facilities in the cities of England are grim, poorly maintained an oftern covered in graffiti.
THINK OF KIDS, NOT YOUR QUIDS, was a banner carried by youngters in Woolton, Liverpool yesterday.