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Damian Collins MP: “What is the Government doing to save clubs from financial ruin?”

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston was this morning pressed by his fellow Conservative MP Damian Collins to act now in order to save football clubs from financial ruin.

Earlier this week the Government announced that reduced crowds would not be allowed back into Premier League, EFL and National League games, despite a series of successful test events.

Instead the Government says clubs at higher levels must continue to play games behind-closed-doors – this leaves many clubs teetering on the edge with an urgent financial package from the Government necessary to save them.

Speaking via a video link Collins, who is vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters to which the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) is secretariat, asked the sports minister to intervene with urgent measures. Collins has been a long-term supporter of government intervention in football to secure the future of our clubs.

“Many football clubs, particularly in the Football League, face financial ruin now that there’s no prospect of the imminent return of fans and matchday revenue,” said Collins. The Government has offered £1.5bn 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?”

The sports minister said that the Government was in discussions with all the major sports, including the football bodies, and wanted to hear more about the most “imminent” cases.

Huddleston said: “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.”

Immediately prior to Collins’ question the sports minister had said that the Government recognised “the impact of the decisions this week to delay opening stadia over the winter and will now work at pace with sport to understand the issues faced by organisations facing the most challenging circumstances and assess what further support may be required.”

What can the FSA, individual fans, and fan groups do?

The FSA has already spoken with the sports minister and said that we want supporters back into grounds as soon as it is safe to do so, and that this should be reviewed on a regular basis. Every matchday that goes by without fans increases the financial pressure on clubs.

The Sports Ground Safety Authority, clubs, and leagues have all worked to ensure that football feels a safe place for spectators and neither the game’s authorities nor supporters feel that football should be treated differently to other sectors which are allowed to remain open for business.

If clubs are not allowed to admit restricted crowds then the Government must provide an urgent financial package to stop clubs going bust and, as soon as possible, enact the fan led review which was promised in its manifesto to protect the future of our clubs.

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