Jeremy Corbyn attacks 'pricing out' of football fans in Premier League

Ben Quinn
Photograph: John Walton/PA

Jeremy Corbyn has spoken of his admiration for the German model of football fan club ownership as he went into detail about Labour’s plans to give supporters influence over how their teams are run.

Labour had previously committed to ensuring that the Premier League invests 5% of its income from television rights in the grassroots game and enforcing legislation designed to stop ticket tout websites inflating prices.

But the party’s leader used a podcast interview with When Saturday Comes to put pressure on Premier League clubs to do more about high ticket prices, which he says are pricing out working-class communities, and supporting the grassroots game.

Related: English fans hit out at Uefa over 'extortionate' cost of going to finals

“I get very frustrated about the cost of football, the cost of going to matches, the cost of season tickets and the way in which working-class communities are almost priced out of it, particularly in the Premier League clubs,” said Corbyn, an Arsenal fan.

“I understand the issues of players’ wages and the costs involved. But we want 5% of Premier League income to be spent on lower division football, so not Championship, League One and League Two but lower than that: grassroots football.”

Corbyn also said fans’ voices needed to be heard on club boards, adding that Labour would make provision for registered fans’ organisations to elect two directors for every club.

Speaking after a Labour rally in Liverpool, he added: “Germany has a much better, more democratic football model and it’s very successful. I’m very interested in the model of Bayern Munich and others.

“The involvement of fans in football in Germany is so much better because, while fans all have opinions about football, some of them are actually very skilled and knowledgeable people who could bring a lot of good to the club.”

Corbyn pledged to talk to Premier League owners such as Mike Ashley, who he previously described as a “bad boss” who exploited workers by using zero-hours contracts. He has also met Newcastle supporters campaigning to remove Ashley as the club’s owner.

“I would hope [top clubs] would understand and accept that they have a role to play in promoting football,” he said.

“Because after all they do benefit from the skills from footballers who all start out in amateur leagues, lower leagues and so on. And it’s their responsibility also to make sure we have a thriving football community in this country.

“If we go on developing this massive imbalance between the Premier League and the rest of football then that’s not a good look, that’s not a promising future. So I hope they will understand that but of course we will have those conversations with them – we’re very determined that this is the direction in which we want to go.”