Major spectator sports in England have been given a winter lifeline after the government pledged £300m in funding.
With fans not allowed in stadiums or venues, many leagues, clubs and associations had feared for their futures due to the loss in revenues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The “Sports Winter Survival Package” will support sports – from national governing bodies through to clubs – affected by coronavirus restrictions.
In an announcement today the government confirmed that £300m will be given to 11 spectator sports in England, including rugby union (£135m), horseracing (£40m) and rugby league (£12m).
Football also gets £28m, but not clubs in the Premier League or the English Football League, BBC Sport reports. The National League (steps 1-2) receives £11m on top of £10m National Lottery funding, steps 3-6 get £14m, and women’s football has been allocated £3m.
A statement on the Gov.uk website said the funding will be “largely composed of loans” and is the “most generous of any government for its domestic sport sector in the world”.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300m boost will help them survive this difficult winter period.
“We promised to stand by sports when we had to postpone fans returning. We are doing just that by delivering another £300m on top of existing business support schemes.
“Britain is a sports powerhouse, and this government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through Covid.”
Earlier this year the government stepped in to protect rugby league with £16m in emergency loans, and in October announced that £100m would be provided to support council-run leisure centres most in need. Sport England announced a £220m emergency fund for grassroots clubs in April.
Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, said: “These are unprecedented times for our sector, and those sports and leagues that rely so heavily on spectators for their income that have been especially impacted by the pandemic.
“The role they play in their local communities is vital and this package of support from government will be hugely welcomed.”
Breakdown of funding by sport
Rugby union: £135m
National League (steps 1-2): £11m. This follows the announcement that National League clubs at steps 1-2 would receive £10m National Lottery funding to keep them afloat up to the end of 2020, following a deal brokered by the government
National League (steps 3-6): £14m
Women’s football (Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship): £3m
Rugby league: £12m
Owners/operators of major circuits (Silverstone, Goodwood, The British Automobile Racing Club, MotorSport Vision): £6m