Tue, 20 Oct 2020
Reading West MP Alok Sharma
Reading West MP Alok Sharma has been criticised for a ‘gaffe’ on radio, when he said Reading FC is in Division One and could not name what position they are in the league table.
Mr Sharma was answering questions from the public in an LBC interview with Nick Ferrari.
Reading FC fan Paul asked him: “Reading FC have made huge losses since the Covid-19 pandemic. How worried about the club are you going into their 150th anniversary next year? Do you think we are going to make it?”
Mr Sharma responded: “Of course I hope that Reading make it through. I hope that at some point we will be back in the Premiership.”
He was then asked by Mr Ferrari which division Reading are in, to which he responded: “We are in Division One – we’ll leave it there.”
The host corrected him that Reading are in the Championship, with Mr Sharma responding: “Sorry, that’s what I meant. I apologise. Yes indeed, the Championship.”
Mr Ferrari commented: “The English Football League is clinging to life and you don’t even know where your local team is.”
The MP was also asked what position Reading are in the Championship, with Mr Sharma saying he thinks Reading are “doing ok” but not able to elaborate on their place in the table.
Mr Sharma added: “I hope that Reading FC and other clubs will make it through. I know there was some disappointment in terms of people not being allowed back into stadiums.
“Ultimately this is about ensuring that we keep people safe.
“If we want to get stadia back open and people going to those games, we need to make sure we get these infection rates down.”
Reading FC are currently second in the Championship, having won four games and drawn one, with Bristol City ahead only on goals scored.
Earlier this year, they published their 2018/19 accounts, which showed they had suffered £40.6m losses.
Mr Sharma's comments received a mixed response on social media.
One commentator called it a “good old-fashioned gaffe”, while another said: “Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, very in touch with football and his constituency”.
Good old fashioned gaffe from Alok Sharma after a question from @ElmParkRoyals on LBC this morning.#ReadingFC are based in his constituency and like many clubs are struggling to survive, but the Business Secretary doesn't know what league they're in. pic.twitter.com/NxCI0FTQT6— Patrick Carter (@PCarterRadio) October 19, 2020
Alok Sharma, MP for Reading West, very in touch with football and his constituency pic.twitter.com/tPHZy8MROk— louis (@lxuis_23) October 19, 2020
Reading councillor John Ennis tweeted: “What the government should be discussing is the safe attendance into football grounds for fans to enjoy games and for clubs to get some much needed funds.
“Sadly this intervention from Alok Sharma shows that this government knows nothing about football and that they don’t care.”
What the government should be discussing is the safe attendance into football grounds for fans to enjoy games and for clubs to get some much needed funds.Sadly this intervention from @AlokSharma_RDG shows that this government knows nothing about football and that they don’t care.— John Ennis (@CllrJennis) October 19, 2020
But others said his knowledge of Reading FC is not important.
Reading FC ticket holder Michael Marlow said: “I don’t really see why this matters. An MP is a representative, he doesn’t have to share the same interests as his constituents.
“If he’s not bothered, so be it, not everyone likes football.”
Mr Sharma’s office was approached for comment.