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 Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) 12:45 pm, 30th September 2020

I pay tribute to Tracey Crouch for tabling this urgent question. We miss her in this place, and I for one miss her by my side on the football pitch, playing for the parliamentary football team. I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing this urgent question. In today’s Daily Telegraph, the chief executive of Chorley FC, Terry Robinson, says that he has to be careful about the future of his club. Nobody knows what matters to your constituents more than you, Mr Speaker, so it is no surprise that you have allowed this question. Sport matters, does it not?

Let me ask the Minister a few specific questions. First, on the principles that should guide us when getting sport through this very difficult situation, does he accept that the test, trace and isolate system needs to work? This issue is affecting every aspect of our life and stopping us getting on with the sport we love. What representations has he made to the Department of Health about the impact on sport?

Secondly, do we not need targeted support, rather than wasteful initiatives? Given the letter to the Prime Minister from 100 sporting organisations asking for help, what representations has the Minister made to the Treasury and to the Prime Minister asking them to prioritise targeting help to sport? Does he agree that our principle should be that no one should lose a much loved sports club just because of this deadly virus? Will he stick to that principle?

Unfortunately, I do not think that the Minister answered the questions from the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford properly. She explained that non-league football is in a mess. It is hard to understand why supporters of different clubs in different steps are able to attend when others are not. Will the Minister explain that system to us, and tell us why the mess persists? We all want the fan-led review of football—it will give everyone confidence. Will he announce at the Dispatch Box today when that review will commence and who will lead it? At the grassroots, whether rugby, tennis or athletics, so many sports want to know what the plan is. Having unanswered questions hanging over them does not build sport’s confidence in this Government.

What is the plan for sport? Will the Minister explain how it will work? We need a plan that is coherent and easy to understand and that will provide financial stability over the year to come. The Minister says that the Department is working at speed but for months, all across the summer, it should have known that this situation might arise.

Other colleagues will have specific questions about different sports, but all sports are united in wanting to know: what is the plan? If the Minister wants the help of the official Opposition in creating that plan, we stand ready, but we just want to know that the Government will bring it forward now.