It can be argued that the North West provides the best footballing talent in the country.
So many of England’s best footballers of the 21st century have come from Manchester and Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, the Neville brothers, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen to name a few have all had worldwide success from the area in that time.
More recently, the likes of Marcus Rashford, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden are regulars in Premier League and Champions League winning teams and a plethora of talent are continuing to strive.
More specifically, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Everton are widely regarded as some of the biggest clubs in Europe with decades of glory to show for that.
Despite that, the gap between those clubs and local teams is increasing yearly with funding not representing the wider scale success that comes from grassroots initially.
Of course funding isn’t just an issue in football, but it is the most relevant considering the finances in the game, especially in the North West.
Since 2010, Manchester City have spent close to £1.4 Billion on transfers, Manchester United £1.1 Billion, Liverpool £970 Million and Everton £650 Million.
Over £4 billion in the past decade between the four main clubs in the area. An astronomical amount considering the conditions of some of the facilities surrounding them.
When the Olympics were held in the UK in 2012, multiple facilities were put up all around the country in what was supposed to have a lasting effect and with that inspire the next generation.
In fact, facilities are now more expensive to use and less accessible.
Full size pitches have been abandoned across Merseyside due to a shortage of funds, with many people expecting a similar situation to what happened in Blackburn when millions of pounds were cut for leisure for young people that had long-term effects.
A 38 degrees petition asked Matt Hancock MP to consider making the Premier League invest in the Liverpool area, but nothing yet has been achieved on that front.
The Premier League themselves are expected to make over £5bn in television revenue in the next three years, with little of that going into building the future, not just those in the professional clubs.
MerseySportLive spoke to Enjoy Football owner Dave Smith about the ever-growing distance between the bigger clubs and the community, as well as what the professional game should be doing more to promote grassroots football.
He specifically criticised the Premier League’s role and highlighted the situation with former Premier League Chief Richard Scudamore being given £4 million from sixteen Premier League clubs.
He showed discontent with the situation, saying: “For the four big clubs in the North West to share £1 million between them with the growing problems in the inner cities – I’m not happy about that.
“£250,000 could have gone into maintaining pitches in the respective areas. For that to happen I’m shocked and it disappoints me.”
Dave Smith was complimentary of the work Manchester City especially have done but said more collectively needed to be done and he questioned how much work they had been doing with true grassroots football.
He said Man City were working with people in the community, but mainly those with a connection to the club already.
Merseyside teams Liverpool and Everton do have their own foundations to help the local community.
Everton in the Community and the LFC Foundation have both helped tackle the rise in violent crime in the city. Representatives from EitC were a part of the Yusuf Sonko march to condemn knife and gun crime and the LFC foundation themselves have put on local camps that combine sport and education.
Many believe their work isn’t enough however.
Just seven percent of Premier League money goes to grassroots and statistics seem to show that accounts to £2.5 million per club. Liverpool FC’s revenue for 2018 was £364 million. £10 million from that revenue towards local grassroots would go a long way in helping facilities.
Liverpool City Council were given some money to open new facilities.
A £20 million pound investment saw facilities opened up in Fazakerley, Woolton, Allerton and Otterspool. Other facilities in Wavertree, Gateacre School and Broadgreen School all received new 3G pitches similarly.
Any investment is great for the area, but further investments from the surrounding Premier League clubs is necessary and will have a meaningful effect for the growth of football.
Picture by Neil Tilbrook under Creative Commons License