Premier League stars call for investment in grassroots football
Three Premier League players have written to English football’s three main governing bodies to urge them to make more funding available to youth development schemes.
Dave Kitson at Stoke City, Aston Villa’s Curtis Davies and the West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison have sent letters to the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, the Football League chairman, Greg Clarke, and Sir Trevor Brooking, the director of football development at the Football Association.
The letters ask them to review their approach to youth development programmes run by full-time non-league clubs, the majority of whom receive no financial help and are struggling to make ends meet.
A little more than two weeks ago Jez George, Cambridge United’s director of football, completed a 410-mile walk to raise £60,000 to keep the club’s youth scheme going for another year.
This week Mansfield Town have asked parents if they would be willing to pay for their children to attend their centre of excellence to prevent it from folding while Wrexham are considering selling their 10th youngster to a Premier League club in the space of 12 months to cover the running costs of their set-up.
Kitson, Davies and Collison feel passionately about the subject because they have played for clubs affected by the current rules.
Kitson and Collison spent several years with Cambridge United, who were relegated to the then Conference in 2005 but continue to run a centre of excellence, while Davies started his career with Luton Town, whose funding from the Football League Trust will end next year if they fail to win promotion.
In their letters the three players ask the FA, the Football League and the Premier League to “review the current system and examine what can be done to improve it”.
They also write that they “appreciate there has to be point when the funding the FA and Premier League provide for youth development is cut off, but it seems unfair that at present this is determined by the division the first-team play in, rather than the quality of the youth scheme”.