Labour MP Alan Keen dies aged 73
Alan Keen was elected as the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston in 1992, prior to which he had worked as a scout for Middlesborough FC. He carried his enthusiasm for the sport forward into his political career as the chairman of the all-party parliamentary groups on football and athletics and a member of the culture, media and sport select committee.
He has died from cancer aged 73 and is survived by two sons, a daughter and his wife Ann, former MP for Brentford and Isleworth until 2010.
Remembering "the greatest champion of football in Parliament", said Keen "was a great, locally popular, dilligent London MP, and a great fighter for local causes.
"He was a great footballer, and a scout for his favourite club Middlesbrough F.C. for eighteen years. Working with Jackie Charlton, the footballers he spotted included Graeme Souness.
"He was Chairman of the All Party Football Group with over 150 members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, making it one of the largest All Party Groups at the Palace of Westminster and spoke up for the grassroots and fans. He conducted two major inquiries into 'English Football and its Governance'.
"I salute his bravery in facing cancer – fighting it as long as he could - and he will be remembered as someone who taught us how to fight illness. As he acknowledged the NHS could not have done more to be of help and support."
Labour leader Ed Miliband described Keen as a "decent, generous man."
“Alan was Labour to his core – loyal, passionate about social justice and deeply committed to a fairer society," said Miliband.
“A dedicated football fan, Alan continued to play for the parliamentary football team until his illness took hold. He was a great believer in the power of sport to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds make the best of their lives.
“Alan was great friend to me and he will be sorely missed by all.”
Tracey Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, is an FA qualified coach who manages a girl's football team in her spare time. She paid tribute to another footballing politician this morning, describing Keen as a "genuinely nice man" who "used to tell fascinating tales of his time as a scout for Middlesborough"
Also among those paying tribute are Keen's colleagues on the culture, media and sport select committee. Louise Mensch, a conservative, said she was "very, very sad" to hear of the death of her "good-humoured" colleague.
In his tribute, Alistair Campbell remembered a politician who, when it came to football, "knew what he was on about".
"He always knew the score of Burnley’s last game, which should of course be common knowledge amongst all humanity but alas tends to be confined to a minority," said Campbell.
"The last time I saw him, he came up to me and said the single word ‘jealous’ – because a while ago I had played in a charity match at the club’s Riverside stadium.
“It is not unknown for MPs to switch football allegiance when they get a seat away from their home base, but Alan never lost the Boro blood coursing through his veins. He went to Brentford not just because they were his local team when he moved to London, but more because he could watch football all day long.”
On Twitter, other Labour grandees have expressed sorrow at his death. Ken Livingstone said he was "very sad to hear the news that Alan Keen MP has died. My thoughts are with his family and friends today."
Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman tweeted "So sad about Alan Keen. Deeply committed and thoughtful. Will be greatly missed."