Premier League Clubs are facing a “demographic time-bomb” warned an MP today ahead of legislation he is putting before Parliament next week.
Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port & Neston is proposing a number of measures which he says will secure the future of football in a “10 Minute Rule Bill,” which will be heard in Parliament on Wednesday 30th November.
The Bill, if it became law would require all football clubs to provide tickets at discounted prices for young people under the age of 22. Reports have suggested that the average age of adults attending Premier League games is currently beyond 40 and this measure is designed to ensure that young fans are not priced out of the game in future.
A second measure would require local authorities to consider the needs of match going supporters when approving kick off times. This follows a number of high profile complaints after games had been moved to times which made it impossible for travelling supporters to attend via public transport.
A third measure would require football clubs to set aside a proportion of transfer fees paid for the development of football facilities for local clubs and young people. This would apply only to fees paid by Premier League clubs who in the last transfer window alone spent £1.2 billion on players. A levy of just 0.1% could see an extra £1.2 million raised for grass roots football.
Commenting, Justin Madders MP said:
“This nation invented football and with the Premier League we have the world’s most popular football league, but I am concerned that despite all this success, fewer and fewer young people can afford to attend games.
The average age of season ticket holders in the Premier League speaks for itself and is only going in one direction at the moment. It is a demographic time-bomb so we need to reverse that trend and make provision for younger supporters or we risk empty stadiums in 20 or 30 years’ time because the fans of the future have been driven away by sky high prices.
My Bill would require Premier League Clubs to reserve 10% of its general sale tickets for those under 22 who would be able to buy them at a considerable discount. The match going ritual was part of growing up for my generation, I don’t want to see the next one lose out on that.”
Referring to the second part of the Bill, Madders said:
“We have all heard the tales of fans being prevented from going to watch their team because of late changes to kick off times. Everton and Manchester United fans were left furious ahead of the FA Cup Semi-Final in April this year, after a late 5.15pm start time meant that they risked being left with no train home.
My Bill would ensure that Councils should be forced to make an assessment about transport links before and after the fixture before a final time is approved. This can happen at any level of the professional sport. At the start of the season in the non-league, Eastleigh FC found their game against Barrow being moved to a 12:30pm kick off, which was a 10 hour, 600 mile round trip. How can anyone seriously expect fans to travel to and from that game on public transport?”
In terms of the third part of the Bill, Madders expressed his concern about the condition of football facilities at a grass roots level. He said:
“Often pitches are in poor condition with little or no changing facilities. We need to use a little of the wealth of the Premier League and the money spent in transfer fees to be spent to trickle down to improve those facilities.”