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Labour to ‘examine’ government sport strategy if it triumphs at General Election

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Sporting Future, the first piece of major sports policy in over a decade, will be “examined” by the Labour Party if it gets into power following this month’s General Election.

The document, which was published by the current Conservative government in December 2015, has been the catalyst for a complete overhaul in sports funding, with a sharper focus on physical activity’s effect on health and wellbeing rather than sports participation numbers.

As part of its manifesto pledges, Labour pledged to impose a 5 per cent levy on the Premier League’s total broadcasting rights to go towards grassroots football facilities, ensuring stadiums offer greater access to disabled fans, and to make sure fans are represented on the boards of football teams and other elite sports clubs.

In a statement made to Sports Management, a Labour Party spokesperson said the party would “examine the Sporting Future strategy in government in order to measure its impact and to make sure it reflects these priorities.”

Sporting Future states that the Premier League will commit to doubling its current grassroots investment to £100m (US$128.4m, €115.1m). The claim has been echoed several times by sports minister Tracey Crouch.

However, 5 per cent of its current £8.3bn (US$10.7bn, €9.5bn) domestic and international broadcast deal over the three years between 2016 and 2019 would represent a slightly higher £138m (US$177.6m, €157.8m) per year.

Whether or not that would be recognised as a material difference by a potential Labour government remains to be seen.

The issues of both fan representation on boards and disabled access to sports stadiums were referenced in Sporting Future.

Of the latter, Crouch and culture secretary Karen Bradley have both threatened Premier League football clubs with European Commission of Human Rights (ECHR) sanctions if they don’t complete adequate work for disabled fans ahead of the 2017/18 seasons. A number of clubs are unlikely to hit that deadline.

Sports Management is awaiting comment from the Conservative Party about its own stance on the future of Sporting Future.

A complete change of tact is thought to be unlikely should the party remain in power, with a number of funding decisions already made by Sport England based on the desired outcomes of the document.

However, the Conservative’s are yet to confirm that it will remain untouched should the party triumph in 9 June.

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Sporting Future, the first piece of major sports policy in over a decade, will be “examined” by the Labour Party if it gets into power following this month’s General Election.
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