Many parts of the country that have suffered economically over the past decades have also taken a psychological hit. The pride that came with a good job in a strong industry has faded away, along with many of the social institutions that brought people together. In seeking to level up these parts of the deindustrialised Midlands and the North, the Government have therefore focussed on restoring pride in place.
But turning this ambition into action is tough. Pride is woven into the fabric and culture of communities and can’t be restored easily through traditional policy levers. There is a risk that well-intended policy from Whitehall fails to land.
Sport is a big part of the answer. In particular, football clubs that were once at the heart of these communities have suffered from underinvestment and speculative foreign ownership. In places like Oldham and Derby, the club’s downfall has become a proxy for the decline of the town.
Politicians and policymakers are thinking creatively about what supporting football means. The recent Fan-Led Review of Football Governance recommended a series of concrete actions, including a new independent regulator and additional protections for key items of club heritage. And in areas like Bury, fans and local leaders are coming together to take clubs into community ownership.
This event will consider how the Government and others can work together to protect and build on football as a foundation for community pride.
If you are interested in attending this event, please email email@example.com
Tracey Crouch MP, Chair of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance & former Minister for Sport
Sara Britcliffe MP, Member of Parliament for Hyndburn & Haslingden
Tom Greatrex, Vice-Chair of the Football Supporters Association
Steve Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Millwall Football Club
Rick Parry, Chairman of the English Football League