Association Football (Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Education and Science – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th December 1968.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Davidson Mr Arthur Davidson , Accrington 12:00 am, 5th December 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has considered the Chester Report on Association Football; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, arising out of the Report on Association Football, he has now had discussions with the Football League Management Committee or other interested football authorities, with a view to action on this Report; and what conclusion he has reached.

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

As I made clear when the Chester Report was published, its wide-ranging recommendations will need the most careful consideration by all concerned. This will inevitably take time. The first discussions that I have held have been with the Football Association of Wales, as a result of which a joint working party has been established with the Sports Council to consider the future developments and financial structure of Welsh soccer against the background of the Chester Report.

Photo of Mr Arthur Davidson Mr Arthur Davidson , Accrington

Would not my hon. Friend agree that violence on the field is a contributory factor in causing violence off the field? Does he not agree that there is an urgent need for a disciplinary committee to be set up under an independent chairman as recommended by the Chester Committee so that clubs themselves could be disciplined along with players for breaches on the field which can only damage the good name of football?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

That specific matter is a question for the Football Association and one which I shall pursue with the Association when I meet it. There is an independent Committee sitting under the chairmanship of Sir John Lang on the whole question of hooliganism. It hopes to report and to make recommendations early in the New Year.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that violence off the field in connection with supporters' clubs is something he ought to concern himself with? Has he proposals in that direction? As he will doubtless understand, there is a rule that when a team is bottom of the league and doing badly the manager resigns. Does he not think it time that he persuaded his colleagues, since the country is getting into that position, that they should resign?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

It is encouraging to think that the hon. Member does not want people to resign in such circumstances. It is wrong to think that football supporters' clubs are responsible for this violence. I think it is the other way round, for they have a very good influence. The question of violence is one which Sir John Lang and his Committee are looking into.