Sport England’s chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, has welcomed the government’s announcement of a £300 million Winter Survival Package to help major spectator sports.
The injection of funding will support spectator sports impacted by coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions – from national governing bodies through to individual clubs.
The government package is providing support to, among others, rugby union, horse racing, netball, basketball and badminton, as well as the lower tiers of football’s National League.
Sport England will be distributing the funding and, in due course, will announce the criteria and how the process will work.
The fund’s designed to last until the end of the current financial year and Tim Hollingsworth hopes the money will have a positive impact on sports affected by the ban on spectators due to coronavirus restrictions.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The funding process will be overseen by a new, independent, decision-making board and supported by us, with Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, saying the government will do everything it can to help sports and club make it through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300 million boost will help them survive this difficult winter period,” he said.
“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 the existing business support schemes.”
The Prime Minister initially announced that spectators could begin to return to sporting arenas, in a socially-distanced manner, in October.
A rise in cases saw this move postponed, but Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston hopes this money will help lessen the impact of the virus on sports and clubs.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The fund will be a targeted investment into spectator sports, and not an open, sector-wide fund.
This is not the sole funding option available to sports, though, and our £16.5m Return to Play Fund – part of a £220.5m package of National Lottery and government funding we’ve invested into the sport and physical activity sector since the onset of coronavirus – is currently open.
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