Today, in the nearby city of Bradford the Labour Party has launched its 2017 manifesto underlining how, if elected on June 8th, it will govern the United Kingdom. Throughout the 124 page document, Jeremy Corbyn has detailed proposals on various aspects of society and even included a page on how the party will seek to solve issues within sports, particularly football. The Daily Bulletin has analysed the proposals on how they will address the issues within the sport.
Football has changed in an incredible way over the past few decades; once upon a time it was run on a local scale with the fans in mind but now it’s dictated on by global forces, often run by foreign millionaires who seem to have no grasp on the importance of local identity. The Labour manifesto addresses this by claiming that it will enforce legislation to allow supporters trusts to appoint at least two club directors and more significantly allow the purchase of shares in the event of the club changing ownership. Although there has been no mention of the amount of ownership they will be able to acquire, In 2014 Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister stated that supporters trust would have access to 10%.
The Leeds United Supporters’ Trust has welcomed this news with open arms as they are involved in a club which has regularly been subjected to ownership issues. A member of the trust told the Daily Bulletin that “the continued pledged from Labour is absolutely vital in order to sort out the troubles that our club has constantly been battling with.”
Fan participation at board level is not the only issue addressed by the party led by Jeremy Corbyn, they also seek to challenge the apparent ignorance towards fans with a disability. In 2015 the Premier League promised to improve disabled facilities in all its clubs by August 2017 but the Culture, Media and Sport select committee has doubted this claim on many occasions by claiming “we are unconvinced that the league will punish clubs itself.” The manifesto addresses this concern through legislation and outlines plans to make sports authorities responsible for making rapid improvements on disabled access.
The issue of ticket sales has continued to trouble the football world. Tickets to football matches across the country are often purchased and then resold at hugely inflated prices; Labour has plans to stop this happening. The policy will focus on preventing computerised bots purchasing match days tickets in large quantities meaning that fans will stand a fair chance of getting access to purchase tickets to watch their team. An investigation in 2016 found that bot-software capable of bulk buying tickets is easily purchased online and how-to-use videos can be viewed just as easily on Youtube. This ease of access to software has fuelled the issue and Labour is putting the steps into place to halt the progress and allow fans a fair chance at purchasing tickets.
The manifesto also pledges to ensure that the Premier League sticks to its promise of investing 5% of television rights income into the grass roots game, which Labour say they have failed to do. Also, the top Football earners are set to face higher tax as a 50p rate is being proposed for those earning £123,000.