HC Deb 16 February 1998 vol 306 c756
27. Mr. Bob Russell

If he will provide financial support for football clubs in the lower divisions of the Football League and feeder leagues to improve spectator facilities.[27611]

Mr. Chris Smith

I recognise the importance of having good-quality spectator accommodation at all levels of football. My hon. Friend the Minister for Sport was pleased to be able to announce last year that £20 million will be available to the Football Trust over the next four years from the Football Association and the national lottery to support football at all levels. I am pleased that the lottery is having such a positive impact on football generally, with our national game being the second largest beneficiary of awards to date.

Mr. Russell

Does the Secretary of State agree that the sum he has mentioned would barely pay the wages of one premier division football team; that the gap is widening between the premier league and the rest of the teams that make up the football pyramid; and that that is not in the interests of the national sport? Will he give an assurance that he will use his best endeavours to ensure that football money is spread more fairly and more evenly among all the professional clubs?

Mr. Smith

That is precisely what that £20 million is designed to do, now that the premier league clubs have all transformed their grounds into all-seater stadiums. The job now is to get that help further down the tree to clubs below premier league level, which is precisely what the money is designed to do.