By Tim Parsons-
The British government will provide a combined £300million cash injection to 11 sports hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced.
The intervention comes in the wake of continuous major setbacks to sports due to the coronavirus. Spectator sports have suffered as a result of the continued hot to sport caused by the absence of fans from venues and after pledging its support. Rugby, football, and boxing, have all taken big knocks in the face of the pandemic, heavily affecting overall financial revenues.
The cash injection was welcomed by DCMS Oliver Dowden described “Clubs as ”the beating hearts of their communities”, adding that this boost will help them survive this difficult winter period.”
Rugby union is to be awarded the biggest single amount – £135m. Of that, £44m will go to the Rugby Football Union, £59m to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9m to clubs in the Championship and £23m to clubs below the Championship.
Horse racing will receive £40million to support racecourses unable to welcome visitors.
Football’s National League at steps one and two – which has already benefited from £10m in National Lottery funding to assist through to the end of 2020 – will receive a further £11m to cover the period between January and the end of March.
Steps three to six of the pyramid will receive £14m, while the Women’s Super League and Championship have been awarded £3m.
The Rugby Football League will benefit to the tune of a further £12m, topping up the £16m announced in May to safeguard rugby league’s future.
A combined £6m will go to owners and operators of major motorsports circuits. The Lawn Tennis Association will get £5m and England Netball will receive £2m.
Basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing’s losses have been covered to the tune of a combined £11m.
The package does not cover men’s professional football, despite the well-documented financial difficulties of EFL clubs. That is because the Government expects the Premier League to provide financial support. Negotiations continue over a rescue package from the top flight to support the 72 clubs in the three divisions below.
Cricket is not included in Thursday’s announcement. It is understood that is because the ‘Winter Survival Package’ is focused on sports which should be welcoming in spectators right now.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston 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.”