Michael Gove is forced to admit he got new rules on grassroots sport ban WRONG


Michael Gove has today been forced to admit he got new lockdown rules wrong after suggesting golf and singles tennis could still be allowed under the incoming grassroots sports ban. 

The Cabinet Office minister said rules on golf and singles tennis would be ‘fine-tuned’, possibly allowing players to continue during the upcoming national lockdown.

But the Tory minister has today performed a U-turn and apologised, saying he was ‘wrong’ and that both golf and tennis clubs will be closed from Thursday.

The MP for Surrey Heath made the comments during a live chat with Surrey Residents Network, which was broadcast on social media.

Asked if people would be allowed to play doubles tennis, he said: ‘You’ll probably be able to play singles tennis. We are looking at allowing people to play golf with one other’.

However Mr Gove quickly backtracked on his comments and apologised in a post on Twitter today.

He said: ‘My apologies, I got this wrong. Outdoor leisure facilities including tennis courts and golf courses will be closed from Thursday. 

Michael Gove has today been forced to admit he got new lockdown rules wrong after suggesting golf and singles tennis could be given a reprieve under the incoming grassroots sports ban

Mr Gove quickly backtracked on his comments last night and apologised in a post on Twitter today

Mr Gove quickly backtracked on his comments last night and apologised in a post on Twitter today

What are the Government’s rules on sports in upcoming lockdown? 

Under the new lockdown rules, set to come in across England on Thursday, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres, gyms and sports facilities will be closed in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres will also be closed.

The ban also includes archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.

As part of the new proposals, grassroots sports, including youth football will be banned. 

It comes as today Ex-Premier League footballer Robbie Savage slammed the Government’s lockdown ban on children playing grassroots sports, branding it ‘nonsensical’.

The former Wales international-turned-BBC-pundit took a swipe at the newly announced policy and said he ‘felt sorry for the generations of kids who cannot play’.

His comments came after a petition was launched to save grassroots sports during the upcoming coronavirus lockdown. 

Under the new lockdown rules, set to come in across England on Thursday, indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, leisure centres, gyms and sports facilities will be closed in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Swimming pools, golf courses and driving ranges, dance studios, stables and riding centres, soft play facilities, climbing walls and climbing centres will also be closed.

The ban also includes archery and shooting ranges, water and theme parks.

As part of the new proposals, grassroots sports, including youth football will be banned. 

Youth football is played by hundreds of thousands of children each weekend during the football season, with as many as 60,000 teams across England.

The blanket ban on grassroots sports sparked a strong response from former footballer Robbie Savage.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, the tough-tackling former Derby and Leicester midfielder, who is now a tough-talking pundit for BBC Radio Five Live, said: ‘At times you have have to ask yourself do they (the Government) really talk to each other and do they know what they are doing?

The blanket ban on grassroots sports sparked a strong response from Robbie Savage

The blanket ban on grassroots sports sparked a strong response from Robbie Savage

‘It’s non-nonsensical and it really winds me up. 

‘I just don’t get it and I feel sorry for the generation of kids who cannot play grass roots sports, and I’m not just talking about football, I’m talking about all sports.’

He added that it was ‘inconsistent’ that schools were ‘rightly’ allowed to stay open, but sports were banned, and said grassroots games provided an ‘out’ for some children – particularly from low-incoming backgrounds.

Meanwhile a petition has been launched urging a Government rethink on the youth grassroots sports ban.

The petition, launched by Matt Brodie and directed at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is aiming to collect 150,000 signatures.

Since being launched two days ago, it has been signed more than 90,000 times.

On the petition’s page, it says: ‘On October 31, Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown in England until December 2.

‘It is well known that outdoor transmission of the Covid 19 is minimal. All grassroots football clubs have guidelines & processes in place to make football safe.

‘This petition is to fight to keep grassroots football for YOUTH going throughout the new restrictions.

‘Benefits include physical health maintained or increased during restrictions, mental health maintained or increased due to the social aspect of sport and looking forward to the activity each week. 

‘It also improves parents’ mental health. Taking your child and watching your child will support adult mental health.’ 

Meanwhile, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, Julian Knight, has been among those calling for golf courses and tennis courts to be allowed to stay open.

And former DCMS committee chair Damian Collins is among a group of six MPs who have called on the Government to allow under-18s to continue participating in outdoor grassroots sports during the lockdown.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, the MPs wrote: ‘Young people will currently be allowed to continue with sport at school, and we believe that the risks to the spread of coronavirus from outdoor grassroots youth sport would be minimal.

‘There would however be clear and lasting benefits for these young people if the Government could support this.’

However, Mr Dowden tweeted: ‘Unfortunately we need to pause grassroots sport outside school to reduce the transmission risk from households mixing,’ he tweeted.

‘As soon as we can resume this, we will.’

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