Matt Hancock is not the most popular political figure in the UK among football fans.
He was the Secretary of State for Healthcare in the British parliament during the COVID-19 pandemic and his comments regarding football player wages created a controversy, at least in the Premier League.
In a nutshell, he stated that players’ salaries should be slashed and the decision should be imposed on the clubs rather than let them do it of their own accord. It caused a huge uproar among the players and fans alike.
Now, another of his decisions from the same time period is coming under scrutiny and may cause further uproar and damage to his reputation.
Matt Hancock auctioned off his signed Newcastle United football shirt in 2020 to raise money for Scrubs Glorious Scrubs, a voluntary sewing collaborative making non-surgical scrubs.
The auction took place amid the coronavirus pandemic and was hosted online by DJ Chris Evans to raise funds that would be used to purchase NHS scrubs.
Hancock is a known fan of Newcastle United, and the shirt was signed by the team’s players.
The shirt was described as his “pride and joy” and raised a reported £1,850 at the auction. He added:
This shirt was gifted to me by Uncle Dave. It was because of him that I am now a lifelong supporter and fan of Newcastle United.
Signed by the team. The top as seen hanging behind me on the bookshelf during many of my Skype interviews – I will sign it for you also if you like.
While this was seen as a positive move then, recent developments have left everyone questioning what actually happened.
On a TikTok posted on Sunday, Mr Hancock was seen wearing the same signed shirt that was apparently sold in the auction.
Wearing the shirt ahead of Newcastle’s Carabao Cup finals match against Manchester United, Hancock said
So exciting, if you’ve been a Newcastle fan – we’ve waited years for this, we haven’t been to Wembley for years. This is the most exciting thing that’s happened since Kevin Keegan. Bring it on!
Many fans questioned how he got back the shirt, or if he ever gave it to the winner in the first place.
The former Health secretary was bombarded with questions and accusations and after being called out multiple times on social media, finally responded.
A load of people have been in contact about my shirt that I was wearing last night and they spotted it’s the same one that I auctioned for charity a couple of years ago.
What happened was the guy who bought it then gave it back to me as a gift, which is really kind of him. I’m very grateful. So I’ve still got my beloved signed shirt.
A spokesperson speaking on behalf of the MP reiterated the message.
Matt put his signed Newcastle football shirt up for sale as part of Chris Evans’s NHS charity appeal to raise money for scrubs, but the person who bought it very kindly gave Matt’s beloved shirt back to him as a gift.
It is not unusual for items put up for charity auctions to be bought and then returned to the owner.
The focus, after all, is on raising money and not buying the item.
The only mistake on Hancock’s part here was that since the item was “gifted” back to him, he, as a Member of Parliament, was supposed to disclose it to the House as it was over the threshold of £140.
Hancock has since apologised for this mistake and while his integrity has been in question previously during his career, he has done nothing of that sort this time around.