- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
I met with the Chairman of Walsall FC Leigh Pomlett and Chief Executive Office Stefan Gamble on Friday 2 October 2020 to discuss the financial situation of the Club.
Walsall FC play a very important role in the community, not only as a focus with the football club but also through community work with young children. They were fully prepared to reopen on 1 October 2020 and staff had spent three weeks preparing a Covid-secure stadium so that fans could return to watch football. These hopes were dashed when the Prime Minister suddenly announced on 22 September 2020 that games would not be reopening to spectators.
This has left the Club in an extremely precarious position as 40% of their revenue is obtained from ticket sales. The Government have asked the Premier League to provide help for other clubs, but they can only do so if they are allowed to open their own grounds to supporters. Until the Government takes decisive action, football clubs which are at the heart of our communities will remain in jeopardy.
On Thursday 9 October 2020 during Business Questions I raised this matter with the Leader of the House:
Valerie Vaz MP: “There is also silence on when fans can return to football stadiums. I saw Walsall prepare their ground, taking three weeks to ensure that it is covid-safe so that all our fans can return. Staff have already taken a reduction in wages. Now the Government are holding those businesses with their hands tied behind their backs. They cannot raise income from fans returning, which helps fans’ health and wellbeing. I do not know whether any Cabinet members go to football matches, but there were some fantastic results last weekend. Fans would have wanted to see them. [Interruption.] I meant that I wonder whether Cabinet members had been to football matches previously. There have been dramatic results. We want to go to our local matches at Walsall. There are dramatic matches there, too. May we have a statement on when football stadiums can open safely? There has not been clarity from the Prime Minister or the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg: “I absolutely understand the issue that the right hon. Lady raises, which is a matter of concern to many Members. The Government are keen to help football clubs and have been working with them, but the question is ensuring that grounds can reopen safely, as the right hon. Lady acknowledged in her question.”
I will continue to press Ministers to provide urgent support and to facilitate the safe re-opening of stadiums. I have also written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and the Chief Executive of Walsall Council to request urgent support for Walsall FC.
You can view the club’s website here: https://www.saddlers.co.uk/