Players back ‘Every Minute Matters’ and urge fans to learn CPR ahead of Sky Bet Championship play-off final


Players and staff have teamed up on the eve of the Sky Bet Championship play-off final to call on football fans across the UK to join them in backing the ‘Every Minute Matters’ campaign.

Ahead of the winner-takes-all showdown at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Saints player Ryan Manning and Leeds player Junior Firpo took time out from their preparation for Sunday’s showdown to learn the lifesaving CPR skill for themselves.

And they urged the nation to play their part as the Sky Bet and British Heart Foundation campaign hit new heights.

New figures revealed that since being launched by a star-studded ‘Re-Starting 11’ of footballers and local heroes on May 1, the campaign has so far inspired more than 30,000 people to learn CPR with the BHF’s online RevivR tool.

And with just one game to go, the flurry of 37 goals in this year’s Sky Bet Play-Offs means that Sky Bet has pledged £370,000 to support the BHF’s vital work. Sky Bet wants to raise up to £3 million over the course of the 13-month campaign.

Leeds United defender Junior Firpo who learnt CPR this week at Elland Road said: “Learning CPR has been a genuinely eye-opening experience. I had no idea how simple and easy it is to do – and it’s a skill that can save someone’s life.”

He continued: “The Leeds United fans are simply incredible, they’ve stepped up and supported us every step of the way this season. I’d love them to show their support in a different way by backing this campaign and learning CPR themselves.”

Our very own Ryan Manning said: “If you are ever in a situation where someone has a cardiac arrest that’s when the CPR training will kick in. My advice to anyone is just go and do it, search RevivR and you can learn CPR in 15 minutes. At the end of the day, CPR is a skill that you are much better off knowing than not knowing. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it but if someone near you collapsed, you’d be so glad you knew how to help.”

He continued: “It’s great that we’ve managed to contribute £30,000 to the campaign so far with the goals we’ve scored. We’ll be looking to score a few more on Sunday and hopefully we can donate a few more quid to such a great cause.”

The Play-Off final is a poignant moment to call on fans to get behind the campaign, as it marks a year since Tom Lockyer first collapsed due to an undiagnosed heart condition in last year’s Wembley tie.

In the message to all football fans, the Leeds manager, Daniel Farke said: “Tom’s collapse was a sudden and shocking reminder that heart conditions can affect us all, even the fittest of football players.”

Farke continued: “If all football fans were to spend just 15 minutes learning CPR it could make all the difference. What’s clear from Tom’s experience and the experience of thousands of people every year is that CPR saves lives. That’s why I’d urge the whole football community to come together and learn this potentially lifesaving skill.”

Southampton manager, Russel Martin said: “Football is defined by rivalries and come Sunday we’ll be focused on the job in hand, but football is also about collaboration and coming together to take action on issues that matter to our fans and the wider community.

“Cardiac arrest doesn’t discriminate, it can affect anyone at any time. It’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with Leeds United players and staff in calling on the fans of both clubs and fans across the country to learn CPR.”

The Luton Town captain is one of the stars who launched ‘Every Minute Matters’ earlier this month, alongside Graeme Souness, Glenn Hoddle, Megan Tinsley, David Ginola and Fabrice Muamba.

The stars have appeared on TV and in the press across the UK since May 1, telling their own emotional stories and stressing the importance of learning CPR.

Lockyer said: “This time last year I had no idea what was ahead of me. It’s great to be part of this campaign and it’s amazing to see the reaction we’ve had.”

“My message to football fans is unite behind your team this weekend, whoever you support, and unite behind our shared goal of saving lives by learning CPR. It could mean the difference between life and death for a loved one, a stranger or even a team-mate.”

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. Each minute that passes without CPR reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent. And tragically, less than one in ten people survive often because those around them lack the skills or confidence to perform CPR.

The Sky Bet and BHF Every Minute Matters campaign urges everyone to take just 15 minutes to learn CPR with RevivR, the BHF’s free and easy to use online tool.

The simple course requires no medical experience and can be completed with just a mobile phone and a cushion to practice on. After completing the training, 97 per cent of users feel confident enough to give CPR and use a defibrillator.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation said: “Whether you are attending a match this weekend, watching from the comfort of your own sofa or getting together with friends, there is no better goal than to learn CPR. It only takes 15 minutes using the BHF’s RevivR tool and could lead to the most important save of all – saving a life.”