Coronavirus: Sports leaders to speak at parliamentary session

PUBLISHED: 11:55 01 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:55 01 May 2020

The Union Jack flying over Victoria Tower, Houses of Parliament

The Union Jack flying over Victoria Tower, Houses of Parliament

PA Wire/PA Images

Sports leaders will spell out the impact of the coronavirus pandemic at a parliamentary session next week.

English Football League chairman Rick Parry will discuss how his clubs have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, while England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive Tom Harrison and his Rugby Football Union counterpart Bill Sweeney have also been called to an evidence session before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday.

Later in the morning Dame Katherine Grainger, chair of elite sports funding body UK Sport, will appear before the committee, with Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth also invited to look at the impact of the pandemic on grassroots sport.

The EFL is discussing with its clubs how to finish the 2019-20 season behind closed doors, but the biggest issue at that level is the loss of matchday revenue.

Supporters may not be able to return to watch matches until next year due to social distancing measures, which would potentially have devastating financial consequences for some clubs.

The ECB has suspended professional cricket until July 1 at the earliest, and has had to delay its new flagship competition The Hundred until next year.

The RFU has said it expects to miss out on £50million of revenue as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, while UK Sport faces a challenge in funding Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Grainger said in March that her organisation was in “uncharted territory” because of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games until 2021, and that Government assistance will be needed.

The current funding cycle runs to March 2021.

Sport England chief Hollingsworth said last week: “The true nature of this (coronavirus crisis) and its impact on the nation’s future activity and the ability of the sector to support that, is still unknown.

“But it is what anyone with an interest in sustaining the nation’s well-being, and the positive impact that sport can have on society, needs to start thinking about now.

“Because how we shape our collective response to this challenge will not only determine future participation levels, but also give us the opportunity fundamentally to address and reverse those inequalities.”

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