Extratime.ie's 2020 general election manifesto review

Wed, Jan 29 2020

Former Fine Gael Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring demonstrates his heading ability at the launch of the Supporters' Handbook in 2013. Credit: Jason O'Callaghan (ETPhotos)

extratime.ie election manifesto review

The first trophy of the League of Ireland season will be awarded on Sunday February 9th when 2019 league champions Dundalk take on last year’s FAI Cup winners Shamrock Rovers in the President’s Cup.

Elsewhere on the same day, in count centres in each constituency across Ireland, TDs will be elected to the Dáil ahead of the next government being formed.

If the football pundits are mostly talking about the League of Ireland Premier Division being a two-horse title race, there are plenty more options around the make-up of the next government being discussed by the political pundits with various ‘confidence and supply’ and coalition make-ups available.

The programme for any incoming government will be shaped by the various party election manifestos and extratime.ie has had a look the sections on sport in the manifestos to see just what each of the prospective government parties are saying about sport, and football in particular.

Fianna Fáil

There is specific section of football in the Fianna Fáil manifesto which notes the travails of the FAI as Micheál Martin’s party look to “protect grass roots soccer.”

Ordinary grassroots players and supports at all ages have been let down by the scandals in the FAI. We will work with UEFA to build a consensus on how to protect jobs and ensure that Irish soccer has the support and administrative capacity to thrive and prosper into the future. We will ensure that the FAI is fundamentally reformed to give taxpayers value for money.

In relation to sports capital grants, the party have committed to bring the fund up to €50m by adding €22m.

For the gamblers out there who like a flutter on the football, Fianna Fáil are proposing to mirror a recent move in the UK by banning credit card gambling.

They are also proposing to “establish a Gambling Regulator, financed by an industry levy, covering both online and in person gambling.”

The party have also pledged to “create whistle to whistle bans on betting on live games” as part of their strategy on gambling.

Fianna Fáil is also proposing to amend the current development levy system to support local sports clubs requiring “all major construction projects to give a contribution to locals sports clubs such as land or monetary contributions.”

In relation to female participation in sports:

We will set out statutory guidelines to ensure the allocation of sports funding is linked to criteria enhancing female participation in sports.

Labour

The manifesto from the Labour Party might make the most interesting reading for football fans due to its focus on a new football fund the party says is required due to the difficult times that the FAI are facing.

 

Labour will implement an ambitious strategy to save community grassroots football and to strengthen football’s role in social inclusion, following the serious financial problems in the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).

This funding would be a lifeline to the game of football and to the many communities who have been failed by the FAI. And it would give a reformed FAI the opportunity to get its finances in order. Labour will support splitting Irish football into two entities, with the state taking responsibility for funding the grassroots underage game. 

Part of the goal of the new grassroots underage football organisation would be to tackle low education levels within the domestic game and to encourage school completion.

The party are proposing that the fund will be paid for by ringfencing 12.5% of the betting duty – this is equivalent to approximately €12.5million based on estimate revenue from betting in 2020.

The new funding would also finance an increase in the number of Football Development Officers that are co-funded with local authorities. In addition, the party are looking to roll out a pilot football and education programme with five schools in disadvantaged areas.

These DEIS school students would be provided “intense football coaching in tandem with regular schoolwork and progress towards qualifications.”

Brendan Howlin’s party are also committed to having at a minimum 40% representation of women in sport’s governing bodies.

Sinn Féin

With a possible all-island football league in the current mix for the future of Irish football, Sinn Féin have included amongst their sporting priorities the aim of working “with all sports bodies to support the creation of all-Ireland teams and leagues wherever possible.”

This is with a view to improving competitiveness of Irish teams on the international stage and “would be an important step in terms of the process of reconciliation that is required right across our island.”

In relation to funding of sport, Sinn Féin want to increase public expenditure on sports and recreation services by 10% (€7m) and a 20% increase (€9m) for the Sports Capital Programme, making it an annual grant scheme.

Mary Lou McDonald’s party note their aim to host the Homeless World Cup in football and they will continue to support the 20x20 campaign relating to media coverage, participation and attendance around female sport.

Fine Gael

Having established the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF) for sports facility projects in the last government Fine Gael have noted in their manifesto that they “will make sure that there is another round of funding allocated early in the life of the next government.”

Leo Varadkar’s party have stated they will double government spending on sport by 2027 as they look to achieve the high-level targets set out in the National Sports Policy 2018 – 2027 and to bring the active sporting participation by adults from 43% up to 50%.

Fine Gael are committing to tripling the funding for the high-performance programmes with the goal of securing at least ten medals at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles and at least a dozen at the Paralympics.

In their manifesto, Fine Gael note that they are “open to a bid for a future Rugby World Cup.”

The party will introduce an overall strategy on bidding for major sporting events and how these events are used “to increase sporting participation, encourage domestic and international tourism and promote Ireland.”

Green Party

Eamon Ryan’s party emphasise the policies noted throughout their manifesto on protecting the environment have positive impact on sport:

Our policies will ensure that people have safe greenways to cycle on, bright native woodland to walk through, and clean water to swim in.

They have a strategy for keeping children in sport that will be centred on low-stakes participation. With that in mind they plan to:

Encourage National Governing Bodies to limit score-keeping and record taking in underage sport. This will promote continued participation into adolescence and adulthood, leading to improved elite performance outcomes.

The Greens have committed to “undertake a review of inclusiveness and participation in all funded sports to ensure that gender, ethnicity and culture are not a barrier to involvement.”

They will support the 20x20 movement encouraging female participation in sport and work with representative groups from the disability community to improve access to local sporting infrastructure.

People Before Profit

Of most interest in the People Before Profit (PBP) manifesto is their proposal relating to fan control of clubs:

Legislate to give registered fans control over the running of clubs: Sport should be run by its participants and supporters – not by big business or executives on super-salaries; sports grounds should not be sold off by cliques that gain control of clubs.

PBP also note their desire to “provide outdoor recreational facilities, such skate parks and dirt tracks” and “ensure all urban and rural areas have sporting facilities available to the local population, including pitches and equipment.”

Social Democrats

The Social Democrats manifesto is due to be launched on Friday 31 January.