The most covenantal speech of the week
Each week the New Social Covenant Unit recognises Members of Parliament for their covenantal credentials as spotted on the green benches.
Build Back Bury, says James Daly MP
This week, James Daly MP called on the Minister for Sport to help his constituents buy Gigg Lane, the home stadium of Bury Football Club.
In an Urgent Question about the ‘Fan Led Review of Football Governance’ published on Thursday, Daly asked the Minister:
‘As the review states, Bury FC was founded in 1885, “existed through countless economic cycles, several wars and 26 different Prime Ministers”— but— “ceased to exist in 2018-19 with a devastating impact on the local economy and… a devastated fan base”.
‘…Does the Minister agree that, as Bury FC is mentioned 15 times in the review, one thing that should come out of this is that all stakeholders should work together to ensure that the community buys Gigg Lane for the people of Bury, allowing football to continue in our historic stadium?’
The stadium was listed as an asset of community value soon after the club was placed in administration in 2019. Since Gigg Lane was put up for sale earlier this year, a consortium of fans ‘Est 1885’ have bid to buy the stadium and transform it into a ‘community sports and education hub’.
Daly testifies to the inextricable link between local cultural assets and the economic condition of a place, and the need for ‘levelling up’ to strengthen social infrastructure as means of reviving left behind areas. This is because, as our co-Chair Danny Kruger MP points out, ‘places are sticky’.
Rather than a laissez faire doctrine of economic mobility, public policy could and should frame the manner by which capital and labour meet, and its effects.
The heritage, environment and culture of a place matter as much as its transport links and business facilities simply because a place needs a sense of itself to hold its bright young people, and to attract others to settle there. Bury and its historic Football Club exemplifies the strength of community assets to bring both economic and social vibrancy to a place.
The Unit welcomes the review. However, the report does not recommend new provisions to strengthen the legal rights of fans to acquire ownership of clubs. The government should take this opportunity to ensure more community bids to buy clubs succeed, further protecting clubs from owners who fail in their custodial duties and the future of football.
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