Professional and Amateur Sport: Government Support

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:45 pm on 30th September 2020.

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Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch Conservative, Chatham and Aylesford 12:45 pm, 30th September 2020

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I thank my hon. Friend for his response. I know that his officials are working their socks off behind the scenes, so I thank them for what they are doing, too.

The question relates to all professional sport, because there are fires raging around the whole sector and, to be honest, it has been difficult to see precisely where the support is coming from, but its urgency relates to the national league starting on Saturday. Therefore, the reassurances are welcome, but it is disappointing that there is no specific announcement as yet about what the league will receive or when. However, because it does appear to be coming, will the Minister confirm that the distribution formula will be based on lost gate receipts, and not simply on step? Can he give more details on plans to return fans to stadiums for football and other sports?

While we are talking about fans, can the Minister explain why a step 2 away fan cannot attend an FA cup game against a step 3 club this weekend, but a step 3 away fan can go to another step 3 club for the same type of game? Surely the more we can allow clubs to sustain themselves—[Inaudible]—then it is a bizarre decision—[Inaudible.]

One final question on football: while I appreciate that there is a general view that the Premier League should provide assistance to the EFL, the Premier League, with higher standards of governance, stricter financial controls and its own challenges, would, as would the taxpayer, be cautious about giving money to clubs with poor governance. Will the Minister therefore urgently bring forward the fan-led review of football governance, which may in turn give the Premier League greater confidence in bailing out clubs elsewhere in the pyramid?

Rugby league, rugby union, cricket and swimming are all in a perilous situation, losing millions of pounds in revenue, but so much more in the value that each sport brings to those engaged with it. What discussions has the Minister had with other sports about a support package for them? Given that many use their stadiums for conferences, meetings and dinners to raise revenue, what plans does he have to support the events industry, which is also within the Department’s remit, to return to operations?

Finally, it is always important to remember that professional sport is not the totality of sport, and that millions of people play sport and get active every week. Alongside supporting the professional sports that inspire others, will my hon. Friend ensure that adequate support is provided to keep the nation active in grassroots clubs and leisure centres across the country, at a time when it has never been needed more?