Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Support Measures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:24 pm on 8th October 2020.

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Photo of Shaun Bailey Shaun Bailey Conservative, West Bromwich West 4:24 pm, 8th October 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Peter Aldous in this important debate. It has been an interesting debate to listen to. I want to focus my contributions on the area that has the most direct impact for my communities, and that is community football. We have already talked about this today, but as a Black Country MP, and with the Black Country being at the heart of English football, I could not make a speech without talking about the football sector. I will highlight two of the clubs that I represent: Tipton Town football club and Tividale football club.

On the wider support that the Department has offered to the sector, we have seen an array of packages in conjunction with Sport England and the National Lottery. These have been well received, and the feedback on the whole has been positive. The £150 million funding roll-over and the £55 million sector stimulus are absolutely vital funds, but as we go forward we need to be flexible, as many hon. and right hon. Members have highlighted. I want to reiterate the thanks that many hon. Members have put on record to the Department and to my hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench for their flexibility and openness to having these discussions about vital community assets in our constituencies. It is that flexibility, which we have had to have during these unprecedented times, that has enabled our society to remain open.

I want to focus on why this is important, and I want to talk in particular about those specific clubs that I represent. These are not clubs run by professionals. The people who run them are not paid to do what they do; they are volunteers. For example, Tipton Town football club is run by Ann and Ian. Ian will do a 30-hour shift at a well-known distribution company down the road. He will then come in and set up the matches. He will make sure that the players are there and the kits are ready. He will make sure that the other side know where they need to go. After the game, he will pack up and go away, after ensuring that everyone is sorted. At Tividale, Leon runs the club. Again, he makes sure that the players are ready, and again, he is a volunteer. That is what this is about. These are people who are giving back to our communities, particularly in a community such as mine. In Tipton, up the road from the station, there is an estate known as the Lost City, where kids’ chances of progressing are 20% lower than anywhere else in the region. It is those kids who rely on that club. Many of the junior team at Tipton Town come from Tipton and see that as their way out, and their way to achieve something. I say thank you to my hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench for being open and for listening, but we still have more to do. I know that they will be up to the challenge of delivering it for those people in Tipton and Tividale.