Sport ignored in main party manifestos

Two weeks to go before polling, and already most of you seem to be heart sick of the endless debates, not to mention the volume of party political literature that ceaselessly drops through letter boxes.

In a bid to be positive about the most significant of elections since the Labour Party stunned the Conservatives in 1945, I thought it worth a browse through the manifestos of the principal parties.

After hours of turgid reading, or so it seemed, I gave up, but on reflection found it interesting that none of the major parties had anything to say about sport, which given all the talk about legacies from the 2012 London Olympics and last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, even the Ryder Cup held at Gleneagles, is hugely significant.

There was, in fairness, passing mention of increased PE for primary schools, but nothing about any commitment from those politicians who bent our ears at the time of these big and well-received events. Indeed UKIP went as far as to propose the scrapping of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Let’s just hope Mr Farage’s lot do not end up holding the balance of power at Westminster on May 8.

There are of course good reasons for the reluctance of political parties to get involved in the world of sport, especially as active participation could result in them seeming to be in conflict with those who support sport, not least in the less than beautiful game of soccer.

Banning clubs playing foreign players would not go down well with demanding fans, though I am surprised that UKIP has not gone along with this strategy, though even the normally fearless Mr Farage would not risk falling out with so many voters.

So, despite the interest in the big occasions when they come around, our political leaders are actually big fearties when it comes to upsetting the ruling bodies, particularly in football where legislators can pretty well do as they like, including keeping fans out of the board room.

Safety at sports grounds has also been on the back-burner for too long. It did after all take a long time to learn from the Ibrox disaster of 1971, and then the horrors of Bradford in 1985 and Hillsborough in 1989.

The most eye-catching proposal comes from the Lib-Dems who say it would require the Sports Ground Safety Authority to prepare guidance under which standing areas could be introduced to grounds, though I suspect this would be mainly at English grounds.

No, at the end of the day we are a long way short of politicians taking an active, responsible part in the huge industry that is called sport for as I say all the wrong reasons.