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Government announces £300 million 'Winter Survival Package' for sport

The government have announced a £300 million ‘Winter Survival Package’ for spectator sports that have suffered significant financial losses in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

11 sports who have been the most severely impacted will receive a portion of the package, which is largely comprised of loans and will be offered both clubs and governing bodies.

Most notably, the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL) and cricket will miss out on the funding despite not being able to allow spectators into their grounds since March.

Those that have been allowed to benefit from the package include women’s football, the lower tiers of the National League, both codes of rugby, horseracing, motorsport, tennis, netball, basketball, ice hockey, badminton and greyhound racing.

Nigel Huddleston, the Sports Minister, 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.”

Rugby Union is set to receive the largest single amount at £135 million, of which £44 million will be given to the Rugby Football Union, £59 million to Premiership Rugby clubs, £9 million to clubs in the Championship and £23 million to clubs below that.

“Sports clubs are the beating hearts of their communities, and this £300 million boost will help them survive this difficult winter period," said Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“We promised to stand by sports when we had to postpone fans returning. We are doing just that by delivering another £300 million on top of existing business support schemes.

“Britain is a sports powerhouse, and this Government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through COVID.”

The government have been vocal in their admittance of not being inclined to provide financial aid for England’s top tier footballing competition, who they believe are wealthy enough to support themselves through these turbulent times. Further to this, they have urged the Premier League to agree a rescue package themselves with the EFL, after clubs reported they could face going out of business if support is not provided quickly.

Reportedly, talks are ongoing about allowing spectators to return to stadiums before Christmas when the infection rate is expected to be lower, following the month-long lockdown across England.

Stadiums have not seen regular fans within them since March, where COVID-19 brought the 2019/20 season to a sudden halt.

Author: Jake Wilkin