Guest blog: Alison McGovern's Labour party conference diary, day 3
Whilst the big news on the conference floor was David Miliband's warm words for his brother, this evening I spoke at a fascinating fringe run by the Co-operative Party about football ownership.
We in Merseyside need no reminders about why politicians should care about who owns football clubs, but some colleagues from across the country were less convinced.
Thankfully Dave Boyle from Supporters' Direct was on hand to make the case forcefully not only for the social value of football, but also for the vital importance of democratic involvement of supporters in their clubs.
They'd asked me to speak as I feel passionately that we who care about football should come to its aid. We need to demand two things of our sport. Firstly that the 'fit and proper persons test' is beefed up so that a potential owner's business plan is examined before they are allowed to own a club. This could prevent huge amounts of debt being loaded onto a club before it is bought. The financial stability of a club has to be protected, and politicians of all parties should work together to achieve this outcome.
Secondly, supporters can't be democratically involved in clubs unless they can join a well run supporters organisation. So I called upon all those involved in football and the Government to back Supporters' Direct who build the infrastructure of supporters organisations around the country.
One man at the fringe didn't get it. He said he couldn't understand why supporters stuck with their clubs despite being treated as some are. I tried my best to explain to him that football is part of identity, part of who we are, the family we have grown up in, the city we love. I'm not sure I convinced him, but for those who were in the room who love the beautiful game I hope we sent them away with the inspiration to join our campaign to protect our football clubs.
Alison McGovern is MP for Wirral South, private parliamentary secretary to Gordon Brown, and a Liverpool FC fan. She blogs HERE.