Labour push for major cricket and women's football matches to be part of "crown jewels" free-to-air sporting events

Pressure is mounting on the Government to allow major cricket matches and Women’s World Cup games to be aired on free TV channels, as Labour pushes to enshrine the change in law.

Keighley MP, John Grogan

In the wake of England’s knife-edge victory in the Cricket World Cup, Labour MP for Keighley and Ilkley, John Grogan, is calling on Ministers to make a wider range of sporting events available to all viewers.

Under the current rules, certain “crown jewels” fixtures - including the Olympics and the FA Cup final - are made available to the main free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters.

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But Labour is now pushing for list to be extended to include all future cricket World Cup and Women’s Football World Cup matches.

In a motion tabled in the Commons yesterday, Mr Grogan called on the Government to “add future finals and matches involving England in the Cricket T20 and 50 overs Men’s and Woman’s World Cups to the listed events in the UK which must be offered to free-to-air tv channels.”

The plan has the backing of MPs from across the House, with Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP members all supporting the move.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Grogan said he had been pushing for a review for many years, but hoped that England’s Cricket World Cup victory would finally prompt the change.

He said: “It’s a long time since there was a review. The fact that the Opposition has adopted it puts a bit more pressure on. So I’m more hopeful than I have been. I’ve been working on this for a long while.”

He added: “It inspires a new generation to take up different sports and in schools up and down the country they will be practising super-overs this week.

“Many girls will have been inspired to take up football by the Women’s World Cup and if it’s not on free-to-air it can be hidden away really.”

This comes after Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson last month called for the “crown jewels” list to be updated to reflect greater diversity in sport by including more women’s sports as well as the Paralympics.

However, Culture MInister Jeremy Wright has resisted the calls for a review, suggesting that such a move could hit vital revenues.

He told the BBC: “You have to make sure that the funding is also there.”

There is a balance, he said, between “the money we need in the sport,” and “wanting as many people to see cricket as we can get”.

At its peak 7.9m people watched the final of the Cricket World Cup on Channel 4 and Sky whilst coverage of the Women’s Football World Cup Finals on the BBC attracted audiences of over 11m.