NEIL BONNAR: Invest in pitches and we will reap the dividends

IT’S amazing what you can learn in our paper.

This week at the front of the paper we wrote that Bolton North East MP David Crausby has had 25,000 people sign a petition calling on the Premier League to make more money available to grassroots football.

We also wrote that it costs £200,000 to build a 3G pitch (an artificial surface which provides a superb surface in any weather).

At the back of the paper we wrote that almost all our local football matches were off last weekend.

We described how one of those that did go ahead saw Farnworth Town’s attempts to play a passing game destroyed by standing water, forcing them to switch to a long-ball tactic.

And in David Flitcroft’s Tuesday “Coaching Corner” in our 12-page Your Sport supplement, the Bury manager and Bolton News columnist spoke of the deep cultural footballing differences between Spanish and English youngsters.

He said the Spanish delight in spending hours and hours concentrating solely on passing, whereas the English – and their parents – just want to play a game.

The outcome is Spain’s adults outclass their English counterparts in the art of passing by a country mile.

The real story here though isn’t the cultural differences, but the difference in the quality of playing surfaces.

Spain have a weather advantage over England, but what we do have is a Premier League so awash with money it can afford to pay players weekly more than it costs to buy a 3G pitch.

At the other end of the football scale you have hundreds of thousands of junior and senior amateur players with poor facilities, no funding and bad pitches.

It has always been that way, and the result is laid bare every weekend in the Premier League, where English players are often shown up to be inferior to their foreign counterparts.

And so it will go on unless investment is made in providing surfaces on which players can practise passing and technique.

You can’t blame the Premier League for not giving their money away.

They have no duty of responsibility to the grassroots game, and, as dafts as it sounds, need all the money to keep the good players they already have in their league and to try to entice the great ones from abroad they would like to be able to afford like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

This short-termism begs the question however: where does the Premier League think the next Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are going to come from?

From the parks pitches and junior clubs, of course. If they invested there now they could reap the dividends in 20 years time.

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