Posted: 20.11.20 at 09:10 by Cameron Eyles
Today in Parliament, Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, asked the Minister for Sports for assurances that local sports clubs would continue to be able to access funding support when fans are gradually allowed back into stadia.
This follows an announcement from the Government today of a £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package. This will help clubs who have had their revenue impacted by Coronavirus restrictions.
Local clubs such as Harlequins and Hampton & Richmond Borough Football Club are set to receive support.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Munira said:
"Today’s announcement is very welcome for premiership rugby clubs such as Harlequins, as well as national league south football clubs such as Hampton and Richmond, both of which are in my constituency.
"The Minister is aware that Quins ran the largest pilot event to date with spectators: 3,500 attended a match earlier this year which was proved to be very safe and very secure.
"We will naturally return, in time, to spectators in stands, which will be a graduated process, so can the Minister provide some assurances to clubs such as Quins and Hampton and Richmond that support will not be withdrawn immediately, because ticket revenues will cover only a small proportion of their costs?
"Will he see to it that we will not have the perverse situation whereby people are allowed into hospitality suites to watch matches, but not outdoors in the stands where it is an awful lot safer?"
The Minister for Sports, Nigel Huddleston responded:
"The hon. Lady and I have spoken a couple of times about some of the points she raises. I can give her the reassurance that the pilots that took place earlier this year in her constituency and across the country were not a waste of time.
"They were fantastic learning experiences and proved very well that we could open stadiums safely, but of course there is a bigger issue in terms of transport to and from stadiums and all sorts of other matters that we need to consider in the context of the current coronavirus environment. I would be happy to follow up on some of the other issues she raises."
Following the exchange, Munira said:
"Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, many clubs have been struggling financially following lost revenues. Sports are a huge part of our local community, so I very much welcome the announcement today. It will be great news for local clubs such as Harlequins and Hampton and Richmond Borough Football Club.
"It's crucial however that financial support continues past the Government's immediate plans. Even when fans gradually begin coming back to stadia, support will need to continue to help plug the ongoing huge costs of keeping clubs afloat.
"The Minister has agreed to discuss my concerns further. I will be taking this up with him to ensure local clubs get the funding they need through these challenging times."
You can watch the full exchange HERE