Give young footballers a sporting chance - Howarth

May 15, 2009 11:00 AM

David HowarthMP David Howarth has raised the plight of young Cambridge footballers struggling to be successful against an unfair funding system.

He told the government that young players on the Cambridge United youth development scheme fail to qualify for £180,000 a year cash help because their club is not in the Football League.

And at the same time, The Football League Trust, which allocates funding to youth development has £1 million spare having not spent its full budget.

Mr Howarth raised the issue at a Westminster Hall debate called by MP Ian Gibson who told members that the four top football clubs have all the money and resources.

"There must be some way of getting this vast amount of money flowing through sport into the lower leagues," said Mr Howarth.

"Youth development schemes, including the one at Cambridge United, are judged not on how successful they are, but on whether the club is in the Football League. At the same time, the Football League Trust is not spending its full budget. Football itself can do something to improve the situation."

Mr Gibson said of the Cambridge United youth development scheme: "It has some smart young people dedicated to playing football, but no money comes down to them because they are not in the full league. Compared with other clubs, Cambridge United needs about £200,000 a year to help its youth academy."

On Sunday Cambridge United will play Torquay and a win would put the club back in the football league and guarantee funding for the youth development scheme. If the club loses, however, the scheme will have to continue to be self-financing.

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