Every Minute Matters: Football Legends Unite for CPR Awareness

An inspiring line-up of footballers impacted by life-threatening heart conditions are joining forces with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to urge more than a quarter of a million people to learn life-saving CPR.

Former international stars Graeme Souness, David Ginola and Glenn Hoddle took their places alongside Luton Town captain Tom Lockyer as Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation unveiled a ground-breaking new campaign – ‘Every Minute Matters’ – at Wembley Stadium.

‘Every Minute Matters’ aims to recruit 270,000 people – the equivalent of three Wembley’s – to learn lifesaving CPR over the next 12 months.

And Sky Bet is pledging to donate up to £3 million to support the vital work of Britain’s biggest heart charity, starting with £10,000 for every goal scored during normal and extra time during the Sky Bet Play-Offs – which begin this Friday and end with three showpiece finals at England’s national stadium later this month.

Souness, Ginola, Hoddle and Lockyer are part of the ‘Re-Starting 11’ – a one-off team including Fabrice Muamba, Derby County defender Megan Tinsley and Wigan Athletic striker Charlie Wyke – who will share their own stories and give Brits the skills to tackle the ultimate medical emergency.

The ‘Re-Starting 11’ also features football fans who have either survived a cardiac arrest or saved someone’s life.

Souness, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in his early 30s, said:

“CPR saves lives – and you only have to look at our Re-Starting 11 to see that. It’s a privilege to join a team of inspiring people, many of whom are only here today thanks to CPR, as we stand with Sky Bet and the British Heart Foundation to call on the nation to take action.

“Every day, more than 80 people will suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK – and that’s why we need more people to learn CPR through RevivR.

“Together we can equip thousands more fans with the knowledge and confidence to perform these lifesaving skills because in the crucial moments following a cardiac arrest, every minute really does matter.”

Lockyer, who collapsed during last year’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final and survived a cardiac arrest in December, added:

“I was lucky that at the moment when my heart stopped, those nearby knew the skills to save my life.

“Without the prompt actions of medical staff who gave me CPR and defibrillation, I simply wouldn’t be here today – and I’m forever grateful for that.

“That’s why I’m joining the Re-Starting 11 as we call for more football fans to learn CPR. If every fan in every club took 15 minutes to learn CPR with RevivR, it could help save thousands of lives.”

There are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year, equating to at least five every 90 minutes. Each minute that passes without CPR reduces the chance of survival by up to 10 per cent.

Tragically, less than one in ten people survive often because those around them lack the skills or confidence to perform CPR.

To kick-start the campaign to tackle the problem, Sky Bet and BHF will this month harness the platform and drama of the Sky Bet Play-Offs to unite football fans and the wider British public behind one clear goal – saving lives.

Every Minute Matters will urge everyone to take just 15 minutes – the length of the half-time interval – to learn CPR with RevivR, the BHF’s free and easy-to-use digital tool.

And the drive to raise £3 million for the BHF’s lifesaving work will begin, with Sky Bet donating £10,000 for every goal scored in the Sky Bet Play-Offs as four teams in the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two battle it out for the final promotion spot in their respective divisions.

The ‘Re-Starting 11’ will play a vital role throughout the Sky Bet Play-Offs by raising awareness, providing insight into their own experience and delivering hands-on practical support to help the public learn CPR.

Although many of us will witness a cardiac arrest in our lifetime, the BHF estimates that around 23 million UK adults have never learnt the lifesaving skill of CPR. The BHF’s free, interactive online training course, RevivR, can teach anyone how to save a life in 15 minutes.

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 at British Heart Foundation (BHF), said:

“Millions have watched as players and fans have suffered devastating cardiac arrests in football stadiums – cardiac arrests really can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

“Every Minute Matters will equip thousands of fans with lifesaving CPR skills, giving them the confidence to step in during the ultimate medical emergency. It will also improve access to defibrillators in communities across England, and fund millions of pounds of groundbreaking research into new treatments and cures for heart conditions.

“With the support of legends from the world of football who have been affected by devastating heart conditions, this ambitious partnership will undoubtedly save lives.”

Sky Bet Chief Commercial Officer Steve Birch, said:

“We’re incredibly proud of our title sponsorship of the Sky Bet Play-Offs and it’s amazing to take our involvement even further and work with the British Heart Foundation to create the ‘Every Minute Matters’ campaign.

“It’s extraordinary to think that in just 15 minutes we can learn such a valuable skill and the real-life stories from the ‘Re-Starting 11’ are truly powerful. We’re confident the £3 million we hope to raise will make a big difference for the BHF and that we can achieve the goal of seeing 270,000 people learn lifesaving CPR through the RevivR training course.”

The Every Minute Matters activity in May is just the start of a year-long campaign. Throughout the summer and the 2024/25 season, Sky Bet and the BHF will work together on raising awareness and in tackling specific issues to help in the fight against SCA.