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Osborne’s £3m Chinese giveaway is a political own goal – Dr David Webber

On Wednesday (23 Sept), the Treasury announced a £3 million deal to fund a grassroots football programme in China. Speaking during a weeklong tour of China, the Chancellor George Osborne said the cash would provide training for over 5,000 new football coaches and help bring increased awareness and investment into the UK football sector.

However, Dr David Webber, an expert in the cultural political economy of football at the University of Warwick, believes that the Chancellor’s priorities are misplaced:

“It is astonishing that as grassroots teams across the UK continue to fold due to a combined lack of resources and local spending cuts, the government has decided to plough £3 million of public money into the world’s second-biggest economy.

“The austerity measures rolled out by Osborne since he became Chancellor in 2010 have hit local sides hard, and grassroots football here in the UK has suffered as a result. This decision is a kick in the teeth for junior footballers and amateur players in this country, as well as the dedicated coaches, referees and administrators, all of whom have received nowhere near this level of support from either the government or the Football Association.”

Commenting on the Chancellor’s claim that this money would help raise awareness in China of British football, Dr Webber added:

“With the Premier League recently having received a multi-billion pound windfall from the latest round of national and international television rights, the English game is clearly not in need of any government assistance in extending its global reach.

“The inequality within British football is at an all-time high. Soaring ticket-prices are proving prohibitive to many local fans of England’s biggest clubs, while a decline in the quality of pitches and facilities at a grassroots level stands in stark contrast to the pristine, modern stadiums that provide the backdrop to the weekly drama of the Premier League.

“It is this inequality that the government should be addressing. New legislation is urgently needed that will curb the avarice at the top of the English game and compel its richest clubs to spread much more of their wealth across the football family.”

Notes to Editors:

Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager at The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255. Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email:


Lee Page, Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255.

Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221.