Cricklewood Wanderers FC boss says cash for grassroots football vital in response to binned Wembley Stadium sale
PUBLISHED: 16:30 23 October 2018
The aborted sale of Wembley Stadium may not be such a hammer blow for grassroots football in Brent – even though its profits had been pledged to local sports provision.
Even as the deal was being thrashed out by the Football Association (FA) there were fears on the ground that the Wembley National Stadium Trust (WNST), a charity that currently provides cash to small clubs, could be abolished.
Carmen Llorente, chair of Cricklewood Wanderers FC, said there had been “rumours” that money from the sale would not reach small clubs but instead go to semi-professional outlets.
She told the Times: “It would not only be nice, but also good investment in the future of English football, if FA will allocate more money to grass-root football.
“Young people start their football career at this level, with organisations who lack the funds to pay for coaches and fees for training facilities.”
Services are provided free by these groups due to the number of children and young people coming from deprived households, she added.
“Without investment at this level a lot of potential great football players will be lost.
“I am sad that the sale failed? No.” But she added: “Neither I am glad.”
WNST chief Stewart Goshawk said: “Whilst the sale was still on the table, we were working hard behind the scenes with both the FA and Sport England to ensure WNST remained in place with a strong financial position.
“We are still here operating at full tilt, with a grants round in Brent currently open for applications.”
Shahid Khan, owner of Fulham FC, pulled out of talks to buy the stadium last Wednesday deeming the move “too decisive”.
The billionaire owner of the Jackson Jaguars NFL team had been in talks with the FA to buy the stadium for £600,000 since April. The deal was due to be discussed with the FA’s 127-member council this week.
A spokesperson for the association said: “At a recent meeting with Mr Khan he expressed to us that, without stronger support from within the game, his offer is being seen as more divisive than it was anticipated to be and has decided to withdraw his proposal.”
He added: “We will continue to work together to identify new and innovative ways of investing in community football facilities in the future.”
To apply for sports grants through WNST visit the website wnst.org.uk