Kick It Out urged to source for funding

Kick It Out has been urged to sever its funding ties with the Football Association in order to mount a more credible fight against discrimination within football.

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The suggestion has come from Manchester United non-executive director Michael Edelson, who also believed United defender Rio Ferdinand could be key to helping the campaign group raise its profile and garner more funding.

There has been massive scrutiny on Kick it Out over the past week after Reading's Jason Roberts announced his intention not to wear one of the organisation's T-shirts ahead of last weekend's matches, a stance he will continue this coming weekend.

Ferdinand then went against the advice of United boss Sir Alex Ferguson to follow suit, with brother Anton doing the same 24 hours later on QPR duty.

The furore it caused generated massive debate over the success of Kick It Out's work, and the source of its funding.

They currently receive £110,000 each from the FA, the Premier League and the Professional Footballers Association, with the Premier League bridging a £60,000 funding gap last year.

However, that obvious link has led to accusations Kick It Out is compromised in its dealings with the game's authorities.

And with the Ferdinand brothers calling on Kick It Out to make itself "more relevant" in their statement on Wednesday night, it has been told a different way of funding may be the solution.

"Kick it Out is a genuine charity," said Edelson.

"They employ six people and a non-executive chairman and have done a great job.

"I can't tell them what to do. But they could uncompromise themselves and start to collect money in the way YMCA or Great Ormond Street or Christie's do it.

"I would say the next stage for Kick It Out is to get its independence from the Football Association and get people on it who are able to lobby organisations.

"Rio has a point. You have to push yourself forward. But the way to do that is to build.

"Rio is a fantastic role model for everybody. If he was to create a fundraising committee for Kick it Out it would raise millions."

Edelson knows what he is talking about.

Quite apart from being a successful businessman, he is also chairman of Community Security Trust, which protects Britain's Jewish community from threats created by bigotry, anti-Semitism and terrorism.

CST is also self-funding and together with Kick It Out held an event at Old Trafford on Wednesday night aimed at highlighting the issues surrounding anti-Jewish abuse in football.

It was just one of countless workshops Kick It Out put in place throughout the country during the year, which often go unseen until a high-profile incident occurs.

As Edelson points out though, through the likes of Roberts and Ferdinand and scores of players past and present, Kick It Out have potential access to individuals whose profiles can generate enormous publicity.

It is why, rather than recoil at the Ferdinands' stance, Kick it Out director Roisin Wood embraces it.

"I would always welcome engagement with any high-profile players," she said. "They are crucial to us moving the campaign forward.

"We don't feel the way we are funded does compromise who we are.

"But there obviously is a perception out there that it might do, and to be able to have high-profile players raise this debate and discuss it with them would be great for us.

"We spend a lot of time fighting this battle and trying to get the message across.

"Let's move it forward. This is a small charitable organisation. Let the managers and players show us how best we can do our work."

Roberts said again on Thursday that he will not wear a T-shirt in support of Kick It Out before his side's home game against Fulham on Saturday over what he sees as a failure by football's authorities to take a hard enough line on incidents of racism in the game over the past year.

"If it was a T-shirt from another organisation I wouldn't have worn that either," he said.

"This is not an attack on Kick It Out. I am passionate about the PFA and Kick It Out but they have to do better, we have to do better.

"When we have implemented changes, when we are acting and things are being done, I will be the first person wearing a shirt and driving up and down the country again in my car speaking to kids again about this."

Roberts also gave his backing to the PFA's idea that any player who is found guilty of racism should be sacked, regardless of their worth.

He said: "I would agree with that point. You would think that something like that would already be written in.

"It just shows that we are reacting and not being proactive. That is something I believe the majority of people would believe in and I am quite surprised it's not been in there already."

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