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Covid-19: Football

Volume 675: debated on Monday 27 April 2020

What recent assessment he has made of the financial effect of the covid-19 outbreak on professional football; and what steps the Government are taking to support football clubs during that outbreak. (901882)

Football clubs form an integral part of this country, and it is important that they are given as much support as possible during these difficult times. Ministers and officials in my Department are engaging with football governing authorities about how they can access Government schemes—many have done so. I welcome the Premier League’s announcement that it will advance funds of £125 million to the English football league and national league, to help clubs throughout the football pyramid. In addition, I have personally been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible, in order to support the whole football community. Of course, any such moves will have to be consistent with public health guidance.

I am sure that many people will be delighted to hear what the Secretary of State had to say about football getting going again, particularly with Sheffield United’s ambitious European campaign in full flow. He is absolutely right about the impact on the professional game. Many lower league clubs and clubs across the football community have done incredibly important work in their communities over this time, stressing the extent to which they are community assets rather than simply businesses. Can the Secretary of State say anything about what can be done to protect those lower league and national league clubs, which face unprecedented problems at this moment in time?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question; he raises an important point. The first thing we can do is help get the premier league up and running again, because that will then help release resources through the rest of the system. We have already seen the £125 million support that has been made available, and in addition to that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working with Sport England. They have £195 million for sport and physical activity, including a £20 million emergency grant for clubs and community assets that are in trouble.