By Tony Attwood
Sorry Untold Arsenal has been up and down like the preverbial. Please, if you do find us not here, (as it were) please do follow us on Twitter @UntoldArsenal, and/or go to our Facebook page www.facebook.com/untoldarsenaltolday where we will aim to keep the service running.
But now, here’s the story that did indeed first appear on the Facebook page.
Yesterday I reported on the fact that the FA had announced its new programme for grassroots football – a theme that Untold regularly follows. We alone reported on the reasons behind Sport England removing money it had previously given to the FA (who notoriously claimed that they hadn’t been able to use the money given to them by Sport England for the purpose for which it was intended because of “bad weather”).
Not only did the press fail to consider this issue, and actually look at the weather reports for the period in question (there was no bad weather then) but also failed to point out that when it feels like it, the FA is able to throw around £21m in a lunatic attempt to get the World Cup 2018 in England. (The figure was reported as being much lower elsewhere and it was the efforts of the Guardian that finally gave us the true cost).
Throwing money around to try and cosy up to what even then we were calling the utterly corrupt Fifa was never a good idea, especially when it resulted in the FA getting two votes. So £10.5m per vote. Not a good deal when that money could have gone grassroots football.
So once again, the media (except the Guardian, which generally has very good form on this issue) is ignoring what goes on behind the scenes on the latest FA shenanigans.
Thus when, yesterday, the FA spoke of £260m for grass roots football I said something along the lines that we don’t know where the money is coming from. (I can’t give you my exact quote because I can’t get on the site at the moment!)
Now it is clear, the FA is up to its dirty old tricks again.
The £260m is primarily made up of the pathetic £50m a year that the FA does already spend on grassroots football. So that special announcement is actually now reduced to £60m over four years, or £15m a year.
That’s it. Another press release con trick.
But still, let’s see where £15m a year is coming from. A new sponsor? Another MacDonalds (a major “community” sponsor of the FA) to convince us that eating burgers is better than actually doing some exercise? Or another Emirates Airlines, now sponsoring the FA Cup. Or Carlsberg or Pepsi, both associated with the FA in recent years?
(Now in passing here is something odd, there doesn’t seem to be a page on the internet from the FA that actually tells us who sponsors what any more. Lots of sponsorship pages, but they tell us how to get sponsorship for our local club, not who sponsors the FA. Odd that).
In fact it seems the FA is having trouble with sponsors, because the FA’s image after its affair with Sport England and its relationship with Fifa, and its spending on the bid to get the corrupt Fifa world cup, is now so poor.
The new money for grassroots football comes from a “redundancy programme”, in which over 200 people at the FA are getting the sack, and a new mortgage on the huge debts the FA carries over the fiasco of the Wembley building project.
This all comes from the approach of Greg Dyke, who farcically looked into why England does so badly in world cups. Dyke blamed overseas ownership of clubs and the fact that only about a third of Premier League players were English.
As Untold pointed out years ago however, (sorry, once again, can’t give you the link cos I can’t get on the site) the statistical link is between the number of qualified coaches per 1000 population, nothing else. Countries that do well on tiny resources (like the Netherlands) have lots of coaches, while their top players play outside of their country. That is the model – not its reverse in which the clubs are forced to play more English players than they want.
Dyke failed to complete his brief, failed to gather evidence, and failed to produce a meaningful report on why England does so badly, because the answer was always clear and unacceptable. England does badly, and English grassroots does badly, because of the ineptitude of the FA. And when it comes to press releases, the misleading information in those press releases, which the media by and large fails to challenge.
As the first ideas of Dyke were thrown out, another came along – lots of new style all weather pitches. A great idea as it turns out. But it was announced without any funding whatsoever.
That was called “the national game strategy”, which as we can now see has finally got … £10m a year new money funded by redundancies and remortgaging and £8m in total being given by the government (which in the last Parliament cut £400m from the money it gives to community sport).
Out of all this money just £4m in total is being given for coach education and mentoring. £4m overall (not per year but overall) is being given to girls and women’s football, (a reward for the women’s FA Cup performance!!!!), £1.2m for disability football, and small-sided football for developing children’s skills gets half a million.
Compare and contrast with the money spent on handbags, first class plane tickets and wining and dining for the world cup bid.
So once again the papers, if they (other than the Guardian) ever discover this story, will scream at the Premier League to give money to grass roots. And yes, of course I would like that. But not just to bail out the hopeless, wastrels, incompetent nincompoops at the FA.