Government ‘still committed’ to £550million grassroots football investment

The Government is understood to remain committed to an election manifesto pledge to invest an additional £550million into grassroots football in England as part of a UK and Ireland bid for the 2030 World Cup.

The pledge did not feature in the spending review set out by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month, raising fears that a key plank of the bid, which has yet to be officially launched, would be a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Government sources say the intention to make the investment still stands. The £550m was a commitment over a 10-year period, which the Government said would represent a four-fold increase in investment.

The Government’s multi-year spending review is expected to take place in the second half of 2021, with last month’s review very much an emergency package of measures to help various sectors of society cope with the financial impact of the pandemic.

In announcing the additional investment in December last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If elected next week with a Conservative majority, I as Prime Minister will put my heart and soul behind the case for a UK and Ireland World Cup in 2030.

“I want this tournament to be about more than just football. I want it to transform lives with a legacy to match the 2012 Olympics.”

The formal bidding process for the 2030 finals is set to begin in 2022, with a decision on the hosts for the centenary tournament to be taken in 2024.

The Government investment was intended to improve grassroots provision in time as part of legacy for the 2030 finals and to ensure that every family in England would be, on average “15 minutes from a great local football pitch”.