GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL: CONSERVATIVE PARTY MANIFESTO 2015
In the second part of our pre-election series we run the rule over David Cameron’s attempts to retain control of Westminster. Whilst many votes are likely to hinge on the state of the economy and Europe, those that are keen to keep football close during the election are sure to find the following pledges of particular interest.
The Conservative narrative is continually dominated by the usual cross-party consensus that sport and indeed football remains central to our nation’s culture. With a focus on building the game from the bottom up, they, like labour, had previously promised to help fans buy a stake in their respective clubs “by reforming the football governance arrangements to allow co-operative ownership models to be established by supporters”. Yet the 2015 version seems to have pushed footballing and indeed sporting issues more generally further down their pre-election priority list.
You’d have to carefully work your way through nearly 100 pages of political spiel to find the vague mentions of sport within the 2015 manifesto. The outline of support for new sports in the UK though is particularly interesting:
“We will support new sports in the UK, in particular through greater links with the US National Football League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, with the ultimate ambition of new franchises being based here”
With Tottenham braced for a new stadium in North London, and the future viability of Wembley continually coming into question, the notion of a foreign franchise being based in the UK becomes increasingly pertinent. Rumours have already been circulating across the media that Spurs will look to incorporate a sliding pitch in their final designs to help facilitate a franchise move in the future; the conservative manifesto will only add further fuel to these suggestions.
In terms of grassroots initiatives, the Conservatives have pledged £150m a year for the whole of the next parliament to Primary School sports initiatives. The onus here is heavily on collaborative work with governing bodies such as the Premier League to help build the foundations for our game. The aim is to make progress on developing facilities, primarily artificial surfaces to give children the year round opportunities they require:
“We will improve the quality of Community Sports facilities, working with local authorities, the Football Association and the Premier League to fund investment in artificial football pitches in more than 30 cities across England.”
Sport appears to be a lesser priority for the Conservatives this year, but one which they are conscious to retain going forward. There is a continued focus on the development of grassroots level sport in schools and the community more widely, something that has cross party support quite understandably. The opening of doors to foreign clubs is a new addition for the Conservatives, and one that despite taking up little page space could well prove to be one of their more noteworthy policies going forward.