Government must help northern football clubs hit by Covid-19 – Tory MP

Northern culture is being hit by Covid-19, a Tory former minister said, as the Government was pressed to intervene to “save” football clubs.

Jake Berry said many people in the south of England enjoy opera and ballet, but football clubs are what matter to those living further north.

The former northern powerhouse minister compared Accrington Stanley to the Royal Ballet as he insisted action is required from Westminster to help protect clubs that are the “cornerstone” of communities.

His remarks came as MPs debated support for the economy in the north of England.

Speaking in Westminster Hall, Liverpool-born Mr Berry (Rossendale and Darwen) said: “First of all is the hit that northern culture has taken from this Covid crisis.

“For many people who live in London and the south of England, things like the opera house and ballet will be at the heart of their culture.

“But for many of us in the north it is our local football club – our Glyndebourne or Royal Ballet or Royal Opera House or Royal Shakespeare Company will be Blackburn Rovers, Accrington Stanley, Barrow, Carlisle or Sunderland.

“I’d just say to the minister I think there is a time now where if you look at the argument going on between the EFL and the Premier League, the time has come where the Government must seek to intervene to unblock this to save local football clubs across the north of England – many of which are the cornerstone of our communities and at the heart of our culture.

“I hope that the minister will reflect on that during the debate.”

Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch did not address Mr Berry’s football plea in her reply to the debate, acknowledging the north of England has been a “hotbed” of energy, ideas and creativity for centuries.

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