LONDON (Reuters) – The British government announced a 300 million pound ‘winter survival package’ on Thursday to help spectator sports impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but excluding the Premier League and cricket.
The cash injection is largely made up of loans.
“Support will be provided to rugby union, horse racing, women’s football and the lower tiers of the National League football,” the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said in a statement.
“Rugby League, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing are also in line to benefit.”
More than 100 sports bodies wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September to ask for emergency funding, warning of “a lost generation of activity” because of the pandemic and the ban on spectators.
They called for investment, tax incentives, and regulatory reform, saying COVID-19 had undermined commercial revenue streams with stadiums and leisure facilities closed or greatly reduced in capacity.
“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,” said Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.
“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.”
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for DCMS, said Britain was a sports powerhouse “and this Government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through Covid.”
The DCMS said preliminary allocations reflected submissions made by individual sports, and the funding process would be overseen by an independent decision-making board supported by Sport England.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Giles Elgood)