ST HELENS North MP Conor McGinn asked the Sports Minister in Parliament for a strategy to help professional sport through the coming months.

Mr McGinn spoke in the House of Commons about the contribution that "elite spectator sports" through Saints rugby league club and Haydock Park Racecourse make to the borough.

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Professional sport has been held behind closed doors since restarting over the summer, with a return of crowds scheduled for October shelved due to rising COVID-19 infection rates for an indefinite period.

Rugby league received a £16m emergency financial support package from the Government in May. However, there have been calls for further support for the game.

RFL chairman Simon Johnson said the game is in a "vulnerable state" and called for Government support to help it survive.

Labour MP Mr McGinn is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Horse Racing and Bloodstock and also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Darts.

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In the House of Commons Mr McGinn asked Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston for a plan to be outlined to help sports through he coming months.

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Saints fans have not been able to go to matches to support their team since March

Mr McGinn said: "I was delighted to welcome the Minister to Blackbrook Rugby Club in my constituency and he will know from that visit just how important grassroots sport is in St Helens.

"But with St Helens Rugby League Club and Haydock Park Racecourse, we also have the thrill of elite spectator sports.

"They not only add to the colour of the borough, but provide jobs and a contribution to our economy through visitors as well.

"Now we can't just say to these sports wait and see, so will be the Minister, who I know is committed to doing this, bring forward in a timely manner a strategy and a plan so that we can get fans back and help our communities thrive again."

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In response, Mr Huddleston said details of a support package would be announced in due course.

He said: "I do not doubt the Honourable Member's commitment to sport, I have seen it first hand and it was a pleasure to go to his constituency earlier this year and meet his fantastic constituents.

"I am afraid I cannot give him any more details today, as I say, we are working on the details. As soon as we are able to do so, we will announce the support package, and again the points he raise, I completely understand."

In a statement on his Facebook page afterwards, Mr McGinn posted: "We are lucky to have top-class venues and elite sports in St Helens, with rugby league at Saints and horse racing at Haydock Park. But they are struggling due to not having any spectators or corporate events, and the future of both sports nationally as well as our venues locally is at risk.

"I asked the Sports Minister - who visited Blackbrook Rugby Club in the summer - to bring forward a plan to get us through these tough months and help grassroots, amateur and professional sports thrive again in the future."