Wednesday, July 19, 2006

PM praises new Bent contract

Prime minister Tony Blair took the opportunity of Prime Minister's Question Time today to praise the action of the Addicks in securing an extended contract for Darren Bent. The prime minister was responding to a question from the honourable member for Eltham (actually a Millwall fan) about Charlton's community involvement, but slipped in the remark about Bent at the end of his comments.

The PM was asked if he could be at an event at Sparrows Lane which forms part of Charlton's extensive community programme and commemorates an extension of it funded by the club's charitable trust. He was not, of course, able to attend but praised the Addick's extensive community involvement.

If one reads Charlton's annual report it is certainly replete with New Labour language about social inclusion, but no doubt this reflects a convergence between the club's own objectives and current government policies. What will happen if there is a change of government remains to be seen.

The full exchange in the Commons (courtesy of Hansard) was:

Q3. [86176] Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): If my right hon. Friend has a space in his diary tomorrow lunchtime, may I invite him to join me at Charlton Athletic’s training ground in Eltham to celebrate the opening of their community centre for skills, supported by Charlton’s charitable trust, Barclays Spaces for Sports and the Football Foundation? From my constituency, Charlton run one of the biggest community action programmes in Europe, possibly even in the world. They engage with young people and provide educational opportunities and employment opportunities for them. If he cannot join us tomorrow, will he send a message of congratulations to Charlton for the work that they do?

The Prime Minister: I am very happy to send a message of congratulations to Charlton on their wonderful new sporting facility, which will do so much for young people. I congratulate the Football Foundation and Barclays bank, which I think are the other partners, and I also congratulate Charlton on the wise re-signing of Darren Bent


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