Teachers may be paid to run teams
The threat of industrial action by teachers in support of a 35-hour working week has led to fears that after-school clubs and competitive fixtures could be lost, as they were when teachers worked to rule during a dispute over pay in the 1980s.
Mr Smith said that school sports co-ordinators would limit the impact of any work-to-rule on pupils. "One of the reasons why we are putting in place co-ordinators is that we recognise that we can't call solely on teachers to provide additional support outside the classroom," he said.
But he did not rule out the possibility of teachers being paid to run after-school clubs in the longer term. "That's a question we haven't yet addressed. We would rather see how school sports co-ordinators develop first and then see if anything more needs to be done," he said.
A historic deal between nine major sports governing bodies to use television deals to fund grassroots sport will be announced tody. In what is believed to be the first agreement of its kind anywhere in the world, the sports, which include football, rugby union and league, cricket, tennis, athletics and golf, have all agreed to devote a minimum of 5 per cent of the value of TV rights to school and community sport.
Youth football will be the biggest beneficiary. The latest television deal for the premier league is worth pound;1.4 billion over three years, guaranteeing at least pound;70 million for the grassroots.
But other sports will also invest significant sums. The next rugby union TV deal is expected to be worth up to pound;150m and cricket already spends 11 per cent of its TV cash on youth development - pound;3m this year. John Reid of the England and Wales Cricket board described the deal as "very good news for school sport".
Although the Government has agreed to match football's investment in youth development, Mr Smith said that concession would not be extended to other sports. However, the governing bodies of other sports are set to press for a meeting to argue that football should not receive favourable treatment.