Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has singled out the work of the West Ham United Foundation as an example to other football clubs.
Speaking at a Parliamentary reception to celebrate 25 years of the foundation’s work in east London and Essex, Mr Scudamore told the assembled guests how pioneering the club had been.
“There are hundreds of clubs in our football system,” he said. “Each one of them with a club badge is able to influence particularly young people, more so than perhaps either politicians or those whose day job is to influence them.
“If you have that power, then we genuinely believe that power should be used as best as it possibly can.
“In terms of West Ham, some of their schemes are leading the way among all those clubs.
“For example, the work they do with schools – 35 different schools, that’s 3,000 young people in a year being influenced just by one club.
“The Kicks programme is a central initiative of the Premier League but has been taken on by the West Ham Foundation, probably better than any other club.
“They are currently working in 24 sites within east London, with a huge impact in terms of reducing anti-social behaviour.
“That’s the power of football. It’s the power of the West Ham badge. It does go on like this across the whole country and there a lot of other clubs doing the same, but I don’t think there’s any single club I could name that does it to the depth and to the breadth and with the real commitment that West Ham do.”
The West Ham United Foundation is preparing for a major expansion of its work when the club moves to the Olympic stadium in 2016.
Having provided opportunities and support to 1.5 million people over the last 25 years, West Ham’s target is to reach another million over the next 10.
West Ham vice chairman Karren Brady thanked Richard Scudamore for his long-standing support of the foundation, and agreed with him on the importance of football clubs using their power in the community for good.
“A huge amount has changed in football since the foundation was created in 1990,” she said. “But one thing has remained constant and that is all football clubs have to give something back to their local communities.
“To be a force for good in terms of health, education, citizenship, and social cohesion.
“Indeed, the bigger the football business has become over the last 25 years, the greater that obligation on our clubs has become. As we flourish and grow, so must the communities we live in.
“We now have two communities to serve, the area surrounding the Boleyn Ground and that surrounding the new stadium and we remain fully committed to both.
“Not only that, but we are increasingly extending the foundation’s reach beyond those two communities into the whole of east London and Essex.”