Grass-roots funding deal agreed
An agreement to maintain funding for the Football Foundation will help raise the standard of "English-born footballers", it has been claimed.
The Premier League, the Football Association and the Government, who jointly fund the Football Foundation, the organisation which provides money for grass-roots projects, will provide £102million over three years, maintaining funding at its current level.
That works out at £34million annually - below the £38million the organisation enjoyed up to 2011 but in line with the most recent agreement.
The money will go towards the development of new or refurbished community sports facilities.
A statement from the Football Foundation said the building of high-quality pitches, many of them artificial, would help players reach the standards demanded by Premier League clubs and the England team.
The statement said: "By encouraging more people to play the game on high-quality surfaces coupled with quality coaching at the right age group, we will be helping to raise the standard of English-born footballers to improve not only our grass-roots teams, but also to meet the standards required by the professional clubs and the England national teams."
New sports minister Helen Grant also hailed the funding announcement.
She said: "This partnership between the Premier League, FA, Sport England and Government shows what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together to help strengthen our national game at the grassroots."
Richard Scudamore, Premier League chief executive, said the most deprived areas of the country would especially be helped.
He said: "Having been a trustee of the Football Foundation since the very start, I have seen first hand how these new sports facilities can help to regenerate communities and increase participation among those who play our national game."
Alex Horne, the FA's general secretary, added: "These enhanced facilities increase opportunities for young people to become involved in football, whether as players or coaches, and it is this work which feeds into helping to produce the next generation of English football talent."