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Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 17:10 GMT
Football museum funding refused

Preston MP Mark Hendrick
Mr Hendrick claims similar-sized London museums are supported
A plea for emergency cash to keep the National Football Museum open has been rejected by the government.

Preston's Labour MP Mark Hendrick made the appeal for a rescue package during a debate on the museum on Wednesday.

Tourism minister Kim Howells refused to include the ailing attraction - based in Preston - in a state-funded scheme for free entry to museums.

Mr Hendrick said it would be a "slap in the face for Preston" - recently awarded city status - if the museum had to move to survive.

Famous backing

He told the Westminster Hall debate the museum, which houses UK and world football memorabilia, is backed by top names like Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson.

It is presently housed at Deepdale, home of Preston North End, who were first winners of the league and are still based at the UK's oldest ground.

Mr Howells said the Government was concerned to secure the future of the museum, which was paid for with a 9.5m lottery grant in 2001.

We must recognise location has played a part in the museum's financial difficulties

Kim Howells, Tourism Minister
However, he said it had proved "a great disappointment" - attracting less than half its target of 80,000 visitors in the first year.

Although it holds the "world's most important collection of football memorabilia", the museum does not qualify for the museums budget, because he said free entry will not turn its fortunes around.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport has asked the Football Foundation to consider providing more help, Mr Howells said.

"There was a good historical reason to locate it in Preston," said Mr Howells.

"But we must recognise that location has played a part in the museum's financial difficulties.

"The museum and those who seek to assist it must look imaginatively at alternative sources of funding."


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02 Dec 02 | Sports Talk
30 Nov 02 | Football
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