VERY soon, the Government will introduce a bill on football governance.

This bill follows a fan-led review in 2021 in response to long-standing concerns about club ownership and financial sustainability, and a white paper that was published last year.

The reason that this legislation has been deemed so important and necessary is that football clubs have a very particular and significant role to play in our local communities.

Carlisle, of course, is no exception – and in anticipation for the upcoming legislation I took the opportunity to visit Carlisle United and chat to those involved in the Community Sport Trust.

We associate football clubs with the football matches they play, with the stadiums where they are based, and with the leagues and cup competitions they compete for.

But when you look closer to the impact that clubs have on local areas, there is so much more. Football clubs are truly a part of our community and in our own city, the Carlisle United Community Sports Trust (CUCST) is a great example of this.

The CUCST has three key aspects to it. Firstly, the education element. This has proved incredibly popular – and indeed, Ofsted rated them “Outstanding” in 2023.

It is part funded by EFL and has led to youngsters going on to pursue a variety of careers. It is a fantastic example of an educational setting that isn’t the usual route to qualifications.

The second key aspect of the CUCST is the many projects which are centred around inclusion. These can range from support for mental health within and through football, walking football and other disability-inclusive versions of the game, and many other welcoming inclusive projects. This is very much part of including all sections of the community in the Trust.

The final aspect is actually delivering on their vision. Again, this means the Trust actively getting involved and carrying out a variety of activities to all sections of society and all ages.

The vision of the CUCST is to inspire people to participate, develop and achieve their goals through the power of sport and to deliver an innovative an attractive range of activities to educate inspire and improve the health and wellbeing of people in the local and wider community.

In some ways the CUCST are the unsung heroes of the football club. Of course, it is the skill and heroics on the field that inspire many (and quite right too!), but no matter how well or how badly the football club is doing it is the CUCST who continue their work in the community – and this is to be welcomed and supported.

And when you understand that this kind of work is replicated by many other clubs up and down the country, you really start to appreciate the importance of our football clubs to local areas.

This is why the Government is bringing in legislation to help support football clubs, strengthen governance, and to ensure sustainability is a key part of any decisions made.

I will certainly be supporting this as it passes through Parliament.