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Birmingham City Hailed for Grassroots Football Ticketing Initiative

Thursday, December 04, 2014   (0 Comments)

The Guardian (11/14/14) Hunter, Andy

A sharp decline in attendance at Birmingham City football games in recent years has spurred a campaign that seeks to directly finance amateur U.K. football teams while boosting their own home crowds. The arrangement has local teams and leagues sell tickets at a discount for home matches while half of the proceeds are funneled into their own operating costs. The Save Grassroots Football campaign is urging the Premier League to contribute 7.5 percent of its broadcasting income to the grassroots game, and it calls Birmingham's actions a milestone in the relation between professional and amateur games. “We view it as a win-win for all sides,” says Wayne Cowen, head of ticketing and retail at Birmingham City. Birmingham's scheme followed discussions between the Blues Collective supporters’ group and Save Grassroots Football campaign founder Kenny Saunders. “[Birmingham] understand the problems in grassroots football and football in general given their own experiences over the last few years,” Saunders says. “They want more people watching their games, more homegrown players coming into their system, and to help grassroots football. Their initiative addresses all of that.” Saunders also says if all football clubs ran such a scheme for only one game per season, with support from the Football League and the Football Association, it would galvanize tremendous backing for grassroots teams and facilities in their local communities.

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