The government has announced a £300m rescue package for sports in the UK to share during the winter which will help protect the immediate future of some of our countries (and counties) clubs, venues and athletes as they aim to press through hard times in competition whilst supporters are told to stay away.
Rugby Union is the biggest winner of the government’s latest proposal with £139m set to go towards clubs in need of funds with £59m put into the Premiership and £44m going to the RFU with £9m supporting Championship sides (including Nottingham Rugby) whilst those below the Championship will receive a share of £23m.
Horse racing will receive £40m with racecourses (including Nottingham & Southwell) set to profit from being able to take low interest loans and grants whilst Rugby League will pocket £12m in handouts and motorsport (including the owners of circuits like Silverstone & Goodwood) up to £6m.
The LTA will see up to £5m given towards tennis whilst netball, basketball and ice hockey will pocket £4m each as badminton will get £2m and greyhound racing £1m.
As of yet, there is no support for cricket whilst other less popular sports have also been left out of the original plans for financial help.
Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone said “Over the past few weeks we have worked tirelessly with sport governing bodies and clubs across the country to fully assess what support is needed, as a result of the decision to postpone the return of fans.”
“We know the vast majority of sports – many of which operate on tight financial margins – have been making serious cost reductions, such as locking down grounds, taking up the furlough scheme for many staff and halting excess payments.”
“Whilst the Government’s overall economic package has provided a significant buffer, it is absolutely right that we now intervene to protect entire sports, and the communities they support, as we navigate this pandemic.”
Whilst it is early to tell what it means for all our clubs and competitions, hope is that those sports currently struggling to continue during testing times will be able to do so until an air of normality returns.
Elite football has expressed a desire to have a return to fans in grounds before the end of the year and whilst there is a long way to go before that is confirmed, steps are now being taken by the government which suggests ‘hope’ that at least clubs will be able to allow ‘some’ fans into grounds sometime soon.
One of the hardest hit sports in the country, it is unclear yet as to whether Ice-hockey will restart following eight months of absence from the rink for UK clubs and their players with the EIHL Chairman Tony Smith stating “We need to take a look at the finer details of the support package available, and how it should be used, before we can make any further comment about what this means going forward. It will be important for us to understand how much of the funding is made up of grants or loans, as that will have a large impact on how we can proceed, together with any additional requirements we need to fulfil from Sport England who will now take control of the funding process.
“As a league, we were quite clear over the summer that we needed fans in arenas or government support in order to play, and in this regard today’s announcement of funding is extremely welcome. However, I’d like to ask our fans to let us assess what exactly is available to us, and what possibilities this may or may not open up before we come back to you. There is a lot more detail still to come from the DCMS and Sport England that we need to know, and above all it’s important that we consider the sustainability of the entire Elite League both now and over the next few years before we make any final decisions.”
*Main image @Nat_Ice_Centre ice skating has been severely hit by restriction in the UK.