Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 21 April 2021.

Twenty-seven million

On Monday I joined the twenty-seven million people who have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I was administered with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine at St Thomas’s hospital in London, just over the river from the House of Commons.

The roll out of the vaccine is the best way to protect people from the virus. As a result, we are seeing infection rates back to their lowest level since the start of the pandemic, and hospitalisation rates consistently falling. We remain on track as well to complete the lifting of all of the social contact restrictions by 21st June.

European Super League

I’ve been very concerned this week by the proposal to create a football European Super League, including 15 permanent members, six of whom would be teams from the English Premier League. This is a self-serving proposal by a small number of clubs seeking to maximise their revenues from the global audience of football, and to the detriment of everyone else. If this is allowed to go ahead it will destroy the structure of football as we have known it; one that ultimately connects the great clubs to the grassroots.

Football pyramid

For too long we have allowed football to be run by the commercial interests of a few club owners. We should long ago have reformed the governance of the game to have allowed greater oversight of how clubs are run, and to protect the integrity of the football pyramid. Football is not just any other business. The success of football is based on open competition, which requires the opportunity for clubs to rise up the football pyramid, and for revenues to be fairly distributed. This closed franchise league proposal would defeat both of these principles and would make the whole game poorer.

Last Friday I joined the Manager of Folkestone Invicta Football Club, Neil Cugley, and club director Jim Pellatt, to see the excellent ground improvement works that have been completed at the club. Smart new pitch perimeter fencing has been installed, created from the racecourse fences from the former Folkestone course at Westenhanger. There has also been excellent resurfacing work on the terrace at the Wilmoths Citroen end and in the pitch facing area outside of Bar Invicta.

This has been a difficult year for football clubs who have been unable to play for much of the season because of the COVID national lockdown. However, it’s great to see that Folkestone Invicta is actively preparing to welcome fans back and for the start of their pre-season programme of matches in June and July.

Starting in September this year, the club will also be running a new, two-year, full time football and education programme for 16 to 19-year olds. You will now be able to study for a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport and Physical Activity (worth up to 280 UCAS points) whilst undertaking a full-time academy training programme under UEFA licensed coaches at Folkestone Invicta. All of this is fully funded by the Government.

Folkestone based cricketer Tawanda Muyeye debuts for Kent

Congratulations as well to the young Folkestone based cricketer Tawanda Muyeye, who this week made his debut for the Kent County Cricket Club second XI in a match against Hampshire. Last year Tawanda was named the Wisden Schools Cricketer of the year for his performances with the bat at Eastbourne College, and has been rewarded for his efforts with his first professional contract. He scored a creditable 68 in his first innings, and I wish him well for his future career.

By Ed

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