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Winter cash boost for sports in England

Major spectator sports in England will receive a combined £300 million cash injection to protect their immediate futures over the winter period, the Government has announced.

The Sports Winter Survival Package will support sports – from national governing bodies through to clubs – impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

The funding, which will be largely composed of loans, is the most generous of any Government for its domestic sport sector in the world, and will focus on sports severely impacted over the winter.

Support will be provided to rugby union, horse racing, women’s football and the lower tiers of the National League. Rugby League, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing are also in line to benefit.

Preliminary allocations have been made on a needs-based assessment process and reflect the submissions made from the individual sports, and the funding process will be overseen by an independent decision-making board and supported by Sport England.

The announcement builds on support the government has already given the sport sector to help it stay afloat during this difficult time.

Earlier this year the Government stepped in to protect rugby league with £16 million in emergency loans, and in October announced that £100 million would be provided to support council-run leisure centres most in need. Sport England announced a £220 million emergency fund for grassroots clubs in April.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300 million 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 £300 million 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.

Nigel Huddleston, Sports Minister, 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.

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.

Alongside our wider support for grassroots and community sport, Sport England is working very closely with Government colleagues on the design of this fund and we look forward to playing a key role in its successful and swift delivery.

Full details on the Sports Winter Survival Package, including when it will open, eligibility and how to apply, will be announced by Sport England in due course. It is expected that the first tranche of funding will be distributed in the coming weeks.

Preliminary breakdown of funding by sport, based on needs assessment:

  • Rugby Union: £135 million
  • Rugby Football Union: £44 million
  • Premiership Rugby clubs: £59 million
  • Championship Rugby clubs: £9 million
  • Rugby clubs below Championship: £23 million
  • Horseracing: £40 million
  • Racecourses: £40 million
  • Football: £28 million
  • National League (steps 1-2): £11 million. This follows the announcement that National League clubs at steps 1-2 would receive £10 million National Lottery funding to keep them afloat up to the end of 2020, following a unique deal brokered by the Government.
  • National League (steps 3-6): £14 million
  • Women’s Football (Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship): £3 million
  • Rugby League: £12 million
  • Rugby Football League: £12 million. This will be delivered as a top-up to the existing Government loan scheme announced in May 2020, to reflect updated circumstances.
  • Motorsport: £6 million
  • Owners/operators of major circuits (Silverstone, Goodwood, The British Automobile Racing Club, MotorSport Vision): £6 million
  • Tennis: £5 million
  • Lawn Tennis Association: £5 million
  • Netball: £4 million
  • England Netball: £2 million
  • Super League Netball: £2 million
  • Basketball: £4 million
  • Basketball England: £1 million
  • British Basketball League clubs (including Women’s British Basketball League clubs): £3 million
  • Ice Hockey: £4 million
  • Elite League: £4 million
  • Badminton: £2 million
  • Badminton England: £2 million
  • Greyhound racing: £1 million
  • Greyhound Board of Great Britain: £1 million

Return of crowds

Meanwhile, plans to allow supporters back into stadiums before the end of the year are being considered by Government.

The proposals could come into effect at the end of the current national lockdown and allow a small number of fans to attend games in areas under tier 1 restrictions, the lightest set of local coronavirus measures.