Mark made the following contributions to the Football Broadcasting Rights debate in Westminster Hall.
Mark Field (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con): It is worth making the point also that of course a number of larger stadiums have been built, from Old Trafford to the Emirates. The capacity at many of the premiership clubs is markedly higher than was the case before, so the statistic possibly slightly understates just how much more popular the game has become, notwithstanding the televisation. Many of us remember that in the 1970s and ’80s, when only a handful of games were shown at the weekend, it was felt that TV would be the ruination of football, yet in many ways it has proved to be the absolute opposite.
Mark Field: The hon. Gentleman makes a perfectly valid point. It is important that we stress that although many people feel that footballers are earning untold riches, certainly compared with those of a generation or two ago, and perhaps too much money, from the television funds does go directly to the talent, there is still huge investment in the grass roots of the game, which has transformed the game over the past 20 years. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that unfortunately in terms of this debate relating to Ofcom, there has not really been any serious attempt to demonstrate how just showing more matches, as Ofcom suggests, would lower the cost to the subscriber?
Mark Field: I would not describe myself as a socialist in any way, but the collective system has worked very well, which is greatly to the credit of all concerned. It is worth putting it on the record that Sky has done a terrific job of transforming the broadcasting of the game, in tandem with the BBC and other providers. I feel that Virgin Media’s complaints are unfounded. There is no evidence to suggest either that there is dissatisfaction with subscription rates or that subscription rates would be lowered if we had more games on TV.