A York councillor campaigning to become a Member of Parliament has been accused of “virtue signalling” and using “naked political tactics” by calling for fairer funding for York City Football Club.
Cllr Andrew Hollyer is the Liberal Democrat candidate for York Outer at the next general election expected to take place next year.
He’ll go up against Julian Sturdy MP, who has held the seat for the Conservative Party since 2010, and the Labour Party’s Luke Charters.
On Thursday (23 November), at the full City of York Council meeting, a motion put forward by Cllr Hollyer – who wasn’t present – to fight for fairer funding for York City was passed.
Deputy leader Cllr Pete Kilbane said Labour supported the motion but added: “I was a little bit surprised it was coming in Cllr Hollyer’s name.”
He said: “Not once has he mentioned football to me, or expressed a preference for any particular football club.”
Wryly, Cllr Kilbane added: “I’m sure Cllr Hollyer bringing forward this motion to support York City Football Club has absolutely nothing to do with Cllr Hollyer’s political aims as a parliamentary candidate for York Outer.
“I’m sure Cllr Hollyer wouldn’t be so foolish as to do something like that, because clearly the good people of York can see straight through such naked political tactics.”
Cllr Chris Steward, leader of the Conservative group at the council, said: “I would say that most people who have met Cllr Hollyer would say that he has no interest whatsoever, at all in football.”
“This is nothing more than purely for election leaflets.”
He added: “This motion will change nothing whatsoever.”
“It’s good, it’s fine; Premier League teams get less money, lower league teams get more, but this will do absolutely nothing.
“This is virtue signalling.”
Cllr Hollyer’s motion was to address “the vastly unfair way in which income is shared across the football pyramid.”
Council papers noted that of the £3.2 billion English football receives from TV revenue, 88 per cent goes to Premier League teams and Championship teams get just £32.85 from every £1,000 generated.
It added that “frequently bad management has gone unnoticed or ignored and clubs are run unsustainably, putting at risk all the history, heritage, and economic benefit they bring to an area – often in pursuit of short-term gain.”
Following Cllr Hollyer’s motion, the council will declare its support for Fair Game, and call on other councils to join in its support.
Cllr Hollyer said: “I’m delighted my motion highlighting the important community work of York City FC Foundation and calling for fairer funding for local clubs was passed by full council last night.
“It’s a shame that Labour and Conservative councillors, instead of giving their full backing to the club, chose to spend their time playing the man rather than the ball.
“Nonetheless I look forward to the implementation of the motion’s recommendations and furthering the close relationship between the council and club going forward.”