Sunday, 7 September 2014

My challenge to FA: free England tickets for school kids to help fill Wembley

I am calling on the Football Association to do more to fill Wembley for England friendlies and get more kids watching international football.
 Following last week's match against Norway in front of a crowd of just over 40,000, leaving the national stadium half empty I have written to FA Chairman Greg Dyke asking that he makes tickets available for free for school children in Leicester, and other towns and cities across the country. 

My letter to FA Chairman Greg Dyke can be read below.

I am also appealing to local businesses to sponsor the transport costs to help local schools.  

England's manager Roy Hodgson has even admitted that it is likely England will play in front of small crowds in the Euro 2016 qualification campaign, telling the BBC:

"We'll find it hard to bring attendances back to very high levels because the opponents we're playing won't excite the public."  

It is absurd when we see England playing at Wembley with vast areas of the stadium empty. There are fans across the country who would love to see England play but ticket and transport costs to Wembley make this difficult.

For matches with a likely low attendance the FA should make tickets available for free to help encourage the next generation of England supporters and to promote the game. 

I have challenged the FA to make 1000 free tickets available for school kids in Leicester for the next England match with a likely low attendance, and I am confident we will be able to get local businesses prepared to sponsor the transport costs. I am sure we have local businesses who will want to back this initiative and do their bit to help local schools and give local young people the chance to see England play at Wembley. 

I want kids in Eyres Monsell, Highfields, Saffron and from across Leicester to have the chance to see England play at Wembley. Seeing the national team play in the national stadium will be a great experience. This can help boost aspiration and encourage wider interest in football and sport. 

Sometimes the FA is accused of caring more about corporate sponsorship and big money in football than ordinary fans. This would be a great way to show that is not the case. I am sure England's players would prefer to play in Wembley stadium when it is full, let's have Leicester's school kids given the chance to help create a good atmosphere for an England match in the future.

Leicester Mercury article on this can be read here.