AN East Lancashire MP has expressed her hope that football fans will be able to return to grounds soon despite coronavirus controls.

Hyndburn Tory backbencher Sara Britcliffe said the move was vital for clubs in the English Football League.

She said Prime Minister Boris Johnson singled out Accrington Stanley and its Wham Stadium on several occasions as being a club where the return of fans is vital.

But he failed to give a date has been given for the reintroduction of supporters.

Speaking after the conference call between Mr Johnson and Conservative MPs on Monday, Miss Britcliffe said the Prime Minister pledged that when England comes out of lockdown on December 2 the government will work to have crowds return.

She said: “There are few places in most towns where the whole borough has the opportunity to gather and meet as a community for the same purpose - to watch the town team play football.

"Those are places where children, parents, grandparents and friends can come together. The heartbeat of every football club is its supporters.

“We have seen in recent years major financial problems at Bury FC and Wigan Athletic.

"If we are not to lose teams like Accrington Stanley from the football league, we need to get fans back in the stands cheering on their teams as they play and make sure that they receive the financial support that they need.

"I will continue to lobby the government on this."

Miss Britcliffe has raised this issue with ministers on several occasions and spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on the return of fans to football grounds and the need for financial support to ensure smaller clubs survive.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden is understood to have prepared proposals which would allow fans to attend games in areas where infection rates are low.