By Sir Brightly Plusfours; UK Government Czar of all the balls
I am delighted to have this opportunity to address the ensemble of readers who are known as the most positive, fervent and enthusiastic of Arsenal supporters this side (and indeed that side of) the Great Wall that divides us all.
My mission is to keep you informed (not that you need it of course, since it is well known that Untold readers know more about footballing matters than any other group of internet users, and not that I am licking up to you, oh no, but indeed speaking the plain truth) about some of the wonderful developments that are occurring in the world of
soccer football today.
To begin, allow me, if I may, to report on the work by our brave team of lads in the “Premier Skills” corporation, part of the British Council’s international partnership operating across the globe from snowy Afghanistan to sunny Zambia.
We are utilising the Premier League’s global appeal to help the clubs that need a leg up, (from Darlington to Aldershot, from Chester to Kettering, from Scarborough to Portsmouth, from Rushden and Diamonds to Maidstone) with our expertise in delivering thriving local community football programmes to needy third and fourth world countries such as China. It may have the second largest economy in the world, but that is no excuse for our not being involved.
Since we started out in 2007, 2,300 coaches and referees have been trained. They have watched the work of the Painfully Grotesque Marketing Obstacles Ltd (PGMO) and decided that a new approach is needed – one not held back by the men who once upon a time were in black but no longer are.
Through Premier Skills, young people, including the most vulnerable in downtrodden principalities such as the second largest economy in the entire world (yes, just checked, that is still China), are given opportunities to become better integrated into their local communities, to develop their skills for employability, raise their self-esteem, and then overthrow the state.
Thus we have produced a revolutionary grassroots football programme in China, and we are giving their government £3,000,000 of UK tax payers money. And I want you to know that if you work in the UK this is your money and you can be justly proud of how we are giving it away. And just to show how much this means to me, I must tell you this money is in addition to the £710,000,000 of your UK tax payers money that we spent on the Olympic Stadium, and the £323,000,000 that we spent on changing it into a football stadium that we were able to give to West Ham United.
My close pal and buddy, the UK Chancellor, announced new funding to provide training for over 5,000 new football coaches, significantly increasing Chinese awareness of the thriving football sector in the UK. Then will thus have more qualified coaches than England has. Really. Honest. I am not kidding.
“Yes I know some whinging whining whatnots will say that China has the second largest economy in the world,” said George Osbourne (annual salary £134,565 paid for by the British tax payer) “but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them some more British tax payers money.
“Grassroots football plays an instrumental role in UK life, and it is brilliant to be able to spread that to China. This fantastic scheme which will bring new opportunities to young people across China will also help bring increased awareness and investment into the UK football sector.
“The deal we’ve been able to do here is just one example of the ways we can work together with China to benefit both our nations – and I look forward to seeing the results when China knocks England out of the world cup.
“Yes I know that the FA director for participation and development Kelly Simmons said on the BBC that there has been a “chronic problem” with poor pitches in England, and I am only too aware that the FA lost £1.6m of public funding after a drop in participation figures in 2014, and that it is now going to lose more.
“Yes I know that the FA spent loadsofmoney making one third of its staff redundant in 2016 and that Sport England withdrew funding from the FA because it found it was not spending the money it was given for community development on new pitches but using it to pay its mortgage payments on Wembley.
“Yes I know that each of the last five sports ministers in England has threatened to cut the funding of the FA by the tax payer. But let me tell you this. None of them had the balls to do it. (“Balls” – geddit?)
“Yes I know that a recent survey said 83% of amateur football matches in England take place on council-run pitches, which even the FA have declared to be in an abhorrent state.
“Yes I know that squeezes on council budgets by the government of which I am a member have seen costs rise for local teams, so that thousands of them have to pack up each year.
“Yes I know that in England we are about 20 years behind most of the rest of Europe in terms of the number of all-weather 3G artificial surfaces we have per 1000 people, and 30 years behind in terms of the number of top coaches per 1000 players, which is why England are always so useless at international football.
“Yes I know that when he was FA chairman Greg Dyke said that grassroots football was in a ‘crisis’ and that things have got far, far worse since then.
“Yes I know that Dyke pledged a 50% increase in the total number of full-size, publicly accessible 3G artificial grass pitches across England, to more than 1,000 and that this never happened.
“But giving money to China, like giving money to West Ham (having spent all our sports budget for the next 20 years on the Olympics stadium, with not one single recognisable return in terms of increasing the number of people in the UK who are actively participating in sports), is the right thing to do.”
Thank you for allowing me to put my message across.
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