Welsh election: Sport 'poor relation' in reopening, says Price

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Image source, John Lamb/Getty
Image caption,
Clubs face the ongoing prospect of little or no income, says Adam Price

Grassroots sports clubs will "wither on the vine" if fans remain locked out of attending their events in Wales, the leader of Plaid Cymru has warned.

Adam Price said that, with hospitality restrictions easing, sport was becoming the "poor relation" with reopening.

Earlier, First Minister Mark Drakeford said there would be "pilot events" to set "ground rules" to keep people safe.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be able to reopen outdoor areas from Monday.

Mr Drakeford has said he will announce on Friday whether they can reopen indoors from 17 May.

That move could depend on which party is in power following the Senedd election on 6 May.

The Conservatives accused Plaid of "playing catch-up" on plans they had already announced to get fans back into sports grounds.

The Liberal Democrats said they would "welcome any safe and sensible moves to return fans to stadiums and outdoor venues in limited numbers".

Mr Price said that the prevailing conditions with coronavirus could "accelerate the prospect of a limited number of fans in stadiums".

"Many of our grassroots clubs face the ongoing prospect of little or no income as a result of fans being locked out of attending events," he said.

"Many will wither on the vine if this continues."

Image caption,
Adam Price describes himself as an "avid rugby follower"

Mr Price added: "With restrictions on hospitality easing, sport is fast becoming the poor relation when it comes to reopening.

"Organisers of sporting events are crying out for certainty on when fans will be allowed to watch live sport again."

He backed calls for the Welsh leg of the British rally championship this summer "to be watched by rally fans safely in the beautiful Welsh outdoors".

Campaigning in Wrexham with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Thursday morning, Mr Drakeford said Wales would be "part of a programme of pilot events" and would be "learning from pilot events in England".

"Our pilot programme has sporting events, arts events and festival type events as part of them," he said.

"It's really important we find a set of ground rules so we can operate, have people back in those things that matter a lot to people, but [it] has to do it in a way that keeps those people safe, the people who staff those events safe, and that it doesn't pose a risk to everybody else of Coronavirus getting out of control again."

WALES ELECTION: THE BASICS

What's happening? On 6 May, people will vote to elect 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs). The party that can command the support of a majority of MSs will form the Welsh government. Find out more here.

What powers does the Senedd have? MSs pass laws on aspects of life in Wales such as health, education and transport - and have some tax powers.

What have other parties said?

A Welsh Conservative spokesperson said: "It's good to see Plaid Cymru playing catch-up as the Welsh Conservatives have already outlined a roadmap and a plan to get fans back into sports grounds.

"The UK government is currently conducting spectator trials and Welsh Conservatives will analyse and respond to the findings from those test events with the aim of getting fans safely back into Welsh sporting stadiums as soon as possible."

Jane Dodds, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: "We to want to see fans back in sporting events and with the continued successful vaccine rollout in Wales continuing that day is coming ever closer.

"We would welcome any safe and sensible moves to return fan to stadiums and outdoor venues in limited numbers, however it would be foolish for anyone to assume things can go back to normal just yet."

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Note: This lookup covers national elections in Scotland and Wales, the Hartlepool by-election, as well as council and mayoral elections in England and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections in England and Wales. There may be parish council elections or council by-elections where you are. Check your local council website for full details. Last updated: May 11, 2021, 12:35 GMT