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Accessing government loan schemes: tips for sports organisations

As the merits and morality of re-starting professional sport, whether in bio-secure stadia or not, are fiercely debated, one thing is certain - the finances of clubs, governing bodies and other organisations across all sports, no matter what size, are being significantly impacted by the current crisis.

Many sports organisations will need financial support to manage their liquidity in order to see them through this difficult time. Various government schemes have been put in place to reduce costs in the short-term (eg. by deferring taxes due or reducing staff costs), but this note focuses on how sports organisations can increase their capital reserves via one of the government’s loan schemes for businesses.

There are now several government loan schemes in place which have evolved and grown over the last few weeks, all of which are administered by a panel of accredited lenders. The Covid Corporate Financing Facility is aimed at businesses with an investment grade credit rating. Other organisations can apply for loans of up to £50m through one of the business interruption loan schemes (CLBILS and CBILS). The popular Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) introduced on 4 May 2020 provides quick and easy access to loans of up to £50k to small businesses struggling to otherwise obtain finance.

From a sports organisation’s perspective, it remains important to understand what options are available and what you are signing up to. These are all loans with third party lenders and should be treated as such, regardless of government backing. Consider the impact on any existing debt facilities and lenders, be specific in what you are requesting and provide a well-presented business case to demonstrate the viability and affordability of the loan (crucial in a successful application for all but BBLS). Carefully review the terms being offered (seeking advice where necessary) as it may be that, if available, a loan on normal commercial terms provides greater flexibility than one from within a government loan scheme and, as always, consider which lender will best support you going forwards - a strong relationship with your debt provider will be more important than ever over the coming months and years.

Farrer & Co advise on all types of finance and financing structures for sports organisations. If you would like more information, please contact Martin Blake at