Rugby union will receive nearly half of the £135m financial rescue package from the government
Eleven sports including both rugby codes and horse racing will receive part of a £300m ‘Sport Winter Survival Package’, the government has announced.
The financial bailout will also aid Women’s Super League football clubs throughout the financial crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen incomes devastated by the ongoing absence of fans. National League clubs will also benefit from financial relief along with the lower football pyramid, but English Football League chairman Rick Parry’s desperate plea for help for men’s professional clubs has so far gone unanswered.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the bailout on Thursday, which should prevent any team, governing body or sport involved from collapsing until the much-anticipated return of supporters to sporting events.
“Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300m boost will help them survive this difficult winter period,” said DCMS secretary of state Oliver Dowden.
“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.
READ MORE: EFL chief in urgent plea for government financial aid
“Britain is a sports powerhouse, and this Government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through covid.”
Rugby union will receive a substantial £135m of support, more than three times the amount paid to any other sport, with the sum set to be split across the RFU (£44m), Premiership Rugby (£59m), Championship (£9m) and rest of the English pyramid (£23m).
Horse racing will receive £40m that will go to racecourses across the country, while rugby league will see a £12m payment added on to the £16m emergency loan it received earlier in the year when the sport was at risk of complete collapse.
With National League football clubs receiving £11m in National Lottery funding, an additional £17m will go toward football with £14m allocated to steps 3-6 of the English football pyramid and £3m towards women’s football, which will be split across the WSL and the second-tier Championship.
All sports seeking financial assistance were asked to provide their accounts for a financial analysis, which has resulted in the allocation of funds decided upon a needs-based assessment process, although final submissions will need to be ratified by an independent decision-making board, which will be supported by Sport England.
The rest of the funding will be split across motorsport (£6m), tennis (£5m), netball (£4m), basketball (£4m), ice hockey (£4m), badminton (£2m) and greyhound racing (£1m).
Nearly every sport has been forced to rely on the government’s furlough scheme this year to aid paying employees, while many have had to make redundancies since the pandemic hit and sport was shut down for at least three months during the summer. The RFU for example saw their initial expectation that it would need to make 139 redundancies from it’s 700+ workforce rise to 169, with the majority of that coming within the grassroots game.
As a result of such measures, the sports minister Nigel Huddlestone admitted that there was a requirement for urgent assistance to be offered.
“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,” Huddlestone said.
“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.”
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