HC Deb 12 June 2000 vol 351 cc632-3
14. Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

What discussions he has had with the football authorities about the football taskforce report on commercial issues, with special reference to the cost of going to professional football matches for families and children. [123683]

The Minister for Sport (Kate Hoey)

With my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, on 16 March I met representatives of the Football Association, the premier league and the football league to discuss the Government's response to the report. In further informal discussions with the football authorities and supporters groups, I have made clear the Government's desire that football's new regulatory body—whatever form it takes—should examine the costs of attending football matches.

Mr. Pike

My hon. Friend will know that the majority report expressed serious concerns about ticket pricing at some clubs and about the price of replica shirts supplied by some football clubs. Those are issues of great importance. Will she recognise the important step that has been taken by Burnley football club, which, newly promoted to the first division, has introduced a children's ticket to all parts of the ground for £35 for next season? Should not all premier clubs ensure that they issue concessionary tickets to all children?

Kate Hoey

I congratulate Burnley. Indeed, a number of other clubs have introduced quite innovative methods to ensure that children and families are attracted to football, but we take the issue seriously. As I have said, whatever form the regulatory body takes, when we announce our formal conclusions on the taskforce report, that will be a priority.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

Does the hon. Lady agree that there should be a restoration of balance in favour of ordinary football-going supporters such as my brother and his family? There should be a restoration in the balance of interests, so that it is not just the commercial interests of big companies that take directors to football matches on a Saturday that are respected but those of ordinary football-goers who enjoy their Saturday.

Kate Hoey

I am sure that the hon. Lady's family are ordinary football supporters. They are the people without whom football would not be what it is. It is crucial that football clubs, whether they be in the premier league or in another division, realise the strength and importance of their supporters and look at things in the long term. They should not just go for the short-term effects of short money, with no long-term solutions for football.

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