People in the south of England enjoy opera and ballet but football clubs are what matter to those living further north, a Conservative MP has said.
Former minister Jake Berry made the comparison as he warned "northern culture" is being hit by Covid-19.
He pressed the government to intervene to "save" football clubs.
But his comments were criticised by the Northern Ballet as it perpetuates "tropes that culture in the north is of less value than that in London".
The former northern powerhouse minister compared Accrington Stanley to the Royal Ballet as he insisted action is required from Westminster to help protect clubs that are the "cornerstone" of communities.
Mr Berry, who made the comment as MPs debated support for the economy in the north of England, said: "First of all is the hit that northern culture has taken from this Covid crisis.
"For many people who live in London and the south of England, things like the opera house and ballet will be at the heart of their culture.
"But for many of us in the north it is our local football club - our Glyndebourne or Royal Ballet or Royal Opera House or Royal Shakespeare Company will be Blackburn Rovers, Accrington Stanley, Barrow, Carlisle or Sunderland.
He added the "time has come where the government must seek to intervene to unblock this to save local football clubs across the north of England, many of which are the cornerstone of our communities and at the heart of our culture".
Treasury minister Kemi Badenoch did not address Mr Berry's football plea in her reply to the debate, acknowledging the north of England has been a "hotbed" of energy, ideas and creativity for centuries.
Responding on Twitter, Northern Ballet said it was "disappointed" by the MP's comments while other social media users criticised Mr Berry for his remarks.
Following comments by Jake Berry in today's #PMQs, we are disappointed that an MP and former government minister continues to perpetuate tropes that culture in the north is of less value than that in London.— Northern Ballet (@northernballet) November 11, 2020
This is not okay @JakeBerry - some of the country’s finest Art is created in the North, and the people are proud of it. @northernballet @the_halle @BBCPhilharmonic @Opera_North @RNSinfonia to name but a few of the most treasured and historic institutions of this country... (1/2) https://t.co/qLlTQcE3bm— Jonathan Lo (@jlo_conductor) November 11, 2020
Our former “Northern Powerhouse” Minister suggesting We up North live for football as the South live for the Arts— nazir afzal (@nazirafzal) November 11, 2020
No Jake, do not make the inability of Govt to fund/rescue local football a battle between North & South, nor one between Theatres & Sports