During a visit with the Lawn Tennis Association to Tudor Grange Leisure Centre and the tennis courts in Malvern Park, in my role as Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of Parliament, I launched a new inquiry to examine the risks to survival of community sports.
We’ve heard a lot about Covid’s impact on elite professional sport but we want to shift the focus to our communities - our venues, clubs and local teams, who play football, rugby or cricket.
Grassroots sport has been hit particularly hard by lockdown and concerns over public health. We cannot take for granted the survival of clubs that offer so much to the people who engage with them and support them.
The financial viability of our community sports clubs is in doubt, with many at risk even before the pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures. Venues that acted as social spaces have lost revenue from bar spend and hire fees as well as gate receipts. The loss of our local teams risks the loss of sports facilities, social clubs and community centres, not to mention the damage to health and wellbeing.
The inquiry will consider sports governance and funding across a range of activities that fall under the respective remits of UK Sport and Sport England. We will also examine the case for elite professional sports to support the lower leagues and grassroots.
MPs on the Committee will seek to identify specific action required by ministers to guarantee the future survival of the community sports sector.
We’ll be questioning the organisations whose role it is to actively support them and asking when it comes to spending public money, how far up the ladder should community sport come?