Burnham: sports' money obsession turns fans off

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Culture secretary Andy Burnham is expected to warn the UK’s leading sporting bodies that their obsession with money will “turn fans off in droves” if it is not significantly reassessed. At a Sport England conference, that will see figures from all the UK’s major sports in attendance, Burnham will outline his vision of increased regulation to ensure money at the top finds its way down to grassroots level.

While many major sports such as football, tennis, and athletics, have committed to investing five per cent of their income into grassroots activities Burnham feels this should be an absolute minimum and would like to see more.

He warns that “the public mood has changed” and sport needs to protect its integrity and move away from overtly commercial objectives. In return for £480m of government money via Sport England Burnham will argue that sports must now agree a new deal on how their money should be invested.

Last September Burnham accused football of being at a crossroads and argued that the FA needed to get tough on new owners and ensure the Fit and Proper Person test was a valid tool in protecting clubs.

Burnham’s speech is targeted at sports generally but it will have added resonance for football fans who have found themselves to be victims of rampant commercialism over the past 20 years.