DCMS secures £300m fund for sports winter survival

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has pledged £300 million to safeguard professional sports’ immediate future, as confirmed in its ‘Sport Winter Survival Package’. 

Emergency funds will be made available to sports governing bodies to distribute to clubs and organisations that have been affected by the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Sports England will oversee the allocation of funds, which DCMS stated had been distributed on a ‘needs of assessment basis’ following submissions made by individual sports.

DCMS explained that the funding would be primarily composed of loans, with its latest intervention supporting the HM Treasury’s ongoing national furlough scheme and business interruption loan programme.

Announcing the funding scheme, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden commented: “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.”

Rugby Union will receive the most funding, as the sport will receive £135 million in funds. The RFU will receive £44m, Premiership Rugby will be given £59 million, £9 million will be distributed to Championship Clubs and ‘lower league teams’ will receive £23 million.

The DCMS will also provide  Football’s National League with an additional £28 million in funding. The League’s additional financing follows a £10 million cash injection which was secured through the National Lottery fund.

The National League confirmed that £14 million would be distributed to its division 3-to-6 clubs, whilst £3 million will be allocated to Women’s Super League and FA Championships.

FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said: “This financial support is crucial as these clubs are the heartbeat of their communities and it would be a travesty if they were not able to survive. We have worked hard with the National League, Government and The National Lottery to make this happen and would like to thank everyone involved.”

UK racing, meanwhile, has secured some much-needed relief as £40 million has been reserved for ‘racecourse management’. It comes as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) finalises its 2021 economic programme to support the sport through an inbound recession.

The BHA tweeted its support of funds: “Racing welcomes the announcement by @DCMS that up to £40m of loans will be made available for British racing. This recognises racing’s position as the UK’s second biggest spectator sport, the many livelihoods it supports and the financial peril faced across our industry.”

The UK Greyhound Board of Great Britain will receive £1 million to protect its stakeholders and safeguard the sport’s welfare through the winter period.

Speaking to the media this morning, Dowden revealed that DCMS held continued discussions with sports bodies on how to reintroduce public attendance to sports venues. He underlined that any decision would be ‘guided by scientific evidence’.

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