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Football Clubs: Covid-19 Restrictions

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 24 September 2020

Football clubs are at the heart of our local communities, and many have made their towns globally famous. The Government have provided an unprecedented package of support to businesses throughout this period, and many football clubs have benefited from those measures. We recognise the impact that the decisions this week to delay the reopening of stadiums over the winter will have on sport, and the Government now will work at pace with sports to understand the issues faced by organisations facing the most challenging circumstances and assess what further support may be required. Where it can, we will expect the top tiers of professional sport to look at ways in which they can support themselves, with Government focusing on those most in need.

As the Minister knows, many football clubs, particularly in the Football League, face financial ruin now that there is no prospect of the imminent return of fans and match-day revenue. The Government have offered £1.5 billion to help arts organisations in the community, recognising their cultural value. What guarantee can the Minister give today to clubs in the Football League in particular that the Government will be prepared to offer public money to stop those clubs facing financial ruin?

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments: he has great expertise in this area. I mentioned earlier that we are in discussions with major sports, including football bodies. Yesterday, I wrote to the governing bodies of all major spectator sports to formally begin discussions and provide them with a contact point in DCMS. I also asked the governing bodies to provide me with details of any member clubs or associations under imminent financial threat, and will be providing more information in due course.