Whitehaven chairman Tom Todd has thrown down the gauntlet to the Government to help grassroots rugby league and football clubs maintain and upgrade their homes.

The Recreation Ground chief believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet must offer a helping hand to sports clubs who are struggling under the current tax burden, and hopes more will be done to aid clubs in ensuring their stadiums are fit for purpose.

He says: “I would like the Government to look at the VAT regime for small clubs, as at the moment it is a heavy tax for small clubs to pay.

“I’m asking the Government to set up a fund to give grants to clubs for the upgrade of their stadia.

“Small clubs like ours give an awful lot back to the local community and with the required funds they could – and would – do much more.”

Whitehaven last year revealed plans for an ambitious £6million overhaul of their ground, including the creation of a new stand.

They want to create a new building – The Hub – at the Railway End of the stadium which would have a range of uses including the capacity to host events for up to 700 people, hydrotherapy pools for rehabilitation and spaces for community groups.

The redevelopment would also see the installation of a 4G pitch, the creation of new stands and a move to return a roof to the Popular Side.

And Todd has emphasised that it is not just struggling rugby league clubs but football clubs like Workington Reds which would benefit from support.

He stressed: “There is little that personifies the north better than rugby league. Indeed, it was specifically applied to Workington Man at the General Election.

“If such grants were made available – and not grants whereby the club gets exhausted and exasperated in the process – there would be a boost to the construction industry in permanent jobs at grounds and a great deal of sustainability, more community action and a whole raft of economic benefits.”

The Whitehaven chairman plans to contact Copeland MP Trudy Harrison and new Workington MP Mark Jenkinson.

“I am sure they will be able to pass on my thoughts to the Prime Minister and hopefully we will get a positive reaction from Boris,” said Todd.